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Terror victims in the US sue Qatari institutions for money laundering to finance terrorism

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American victims of terrorist attacks filed lawsuit against Qatari institutions for money laundering to finance terrorism. In a press release a group of U.S. victims of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist attacks in Israel accused Qatari banks, Masraf al Rayan and Qatar National Bank, in conspiracy with Qatar Charity, a Doha-based NGO banned in Israel for funding Hamas, secretly laundered money through the U.S. financial system to both of those terrorist organizations.  “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad used the financial support of these Qatari institutions to kill and maim Americans living in and visiting Israel, including Taylor Force.” 

The note affirms, indicating that in 2018, President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law to stop U.S. funds from going to the Palestinian Authority if they continued making “martyr payments” to those who attack innocents.  This lawsuit details a related and even more pernicious practice: the illegal misuse of the U.S. financial system to facilitate attacks against Americans, including Taylor Force himself.  The victims added that Masraf al Rayan and Qatar National Bank also provided banking services to Hamas leadership operating out of Qatar.  “Those private Qatari institutions, while dominated by the royal family who occupy their boards and executive positions, are private and therefore not immune from suit for their terror financing activities”. Concludes the statement.

Previously, Matthew Schrier, a photojournalist kidnapped and tortured by al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-aligned extremist group, while reporting on the Syrian civil war, sued Qatar Islamic Bank for allegedly funding it. According to the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Al-Nusra kept the photojournalist hostage for 211 days, torturing him at least 10 times and forcing him to see and hear the torture of other prisoners; and periodically withheld water and food. In January 2020, Schrier filed a lawsuit against Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), the emirate’s largest sharia-compliant bank, claiming that both al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham “used an international network of donors and charities” to fund their operations. The lawsuit also claims QIB provided “financial services to those donors and financial support to the charities.”

The Schrier lawsuit implicates Qatari national Saad al-Kabi as one funder of al-Nusra. The U.S. Treasury Department noted that al-Kabi set up a donation campaign in Qatar to fund al-Nusra, a fact Schrier repeated in his complaint. According to the complaint, al-Kabi instructed individuals to deposit funds into an account he established at QIB under his child’s name. Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that QIB knew what the account was used for – but allowed al-Kabi to use it for more than a year. The photojournalist’s complaint also alleges that QIB gave donations to Qatar Charity, allegedly implicated in other terror finance cases. The FDD also indicates that a federal terrorism case in 2002 alleged that Osama bin Laden used the charity to fund al-Qaeda in 1993. Qatar Charity was also accused of sending money and humanitarian goods to the Syrian Islamic Front, a Syrian Salafist network dominated by Ahrar al-Sham with Turkish complicity.

While in 2017, Qatar concluded two memoranda of understanding with the U.S. to boost cooperation on countering terror finance, money trails from Qatari banks to the Muslim Brotherhood have exposed Qatar’s continued funding of terrorist groups across the world, even in Europe. In August 2019, reports denounced UK-based Qatari-owned Al Rayan Bank provides banking services to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups in Britain. British daily The Times reported that the Qatari Al Rayan Bank has provided banking services to organizations linked to terrorism in UK, claiming that the institution has several clients who have had their accounts in other banks closed or frozen due to a security clampdown. At least four of its clients have had their other accounts closed in banks including HSBC, Barclays, NatWest, and Lloyds TSB. The lawsuit filed today by American victims of terrorism represents a milestone against Doha continuous support for a number of terrorist groups worldwide. Civil society is calling on Trump administration to pressure Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to undertake verifiable steps to improve its illicit finance record. 

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