Middle East

U.S. officials to monitor Qatar terrorfinancing

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchange a memorandum of understanding in Doha, Qatar, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

DOHA/DUBAI: The United States will post officials at the Qatari state prosecutor’s office as part of a Qatari-U.S. agreement signed this month to fight the financing of terrorism, people familiar with the matter said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached the deal with Qatar during a round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at ending a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf. The agreement has not been approved by the four U.S.-allied Arab states which accuse Doha of aiding terrorists – charges Qatar denies.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar last month, saying the Gulf state finances Islamist militants throughout the region. No details about the contents of the agreement signed by Tillerson and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdel-Rahman al-Thani, have been publicly released.

But a Western official in the Gulf who has seen the document said it specifies actions Qatar will take by the end of the year, including placing two U.S. Department of Justice officials in Qatar’s general prosecution. “They will work hand in hand with Qatar to charge individuals accused of financing terrorists,” said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Other actions in the agreement include imposing travel bans, enforcing surveillance and freezing the assets of individuals with suspected links to terrorism. The accord points to internationally agreed definitions of terrorism without specifying particular groups.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment.

A Qatari official said that the country’s general prosecutor would be working with U.S. officials but that the terms of the cooperation had not been finalized.

The deal suggests White House officials hope to use the Gulf crisis over Qatar as a way to stem alleged financing flows from the wealthy region to terrorist groups. “It’s a very strong agreement. If followed, this should achieve exactly what Trump requested in the Riyadh summit,” said the Western official.

The Saudi-led alliance cut diplomatic ties and severed all transport links with Qatar soon after a visit to Riyadh in May by President Donald Trump, who days later said Qatar was a “funder of terrorism at a very high level.” Qatar appears to be taking steps to ease the pressure.

“Since the crisis there have been arrests and increased monitoring. They [Qatar] are taking important steps,” said a U.S. official in the Gulf.

Qatari officials say last week’s agreement highlights their commitment to fighting extremism and say that their neighbors are using terrorism as a cover for enforcing demands on Qatar that encroach on its sovereignty.

The U.S.-Qatari agreement, however, did not appear to sway the Saudi-led bloc. “Diplomacy must address Qatar’s support for extremism & terrorism & undermining regional stability. A temporary solution is not a wise one,” the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, posted on Twitter the night after the accord was signed.

The four Arab countries last month named 59 individuals and 12 organizations they accused of terrorism and links to Qatar.

That included Egypt-born preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar Charity, a state body which carries out aid projects with the United Nations. Qatar has said the list is politically motivated.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 21, 2017, on page 9.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here