Can you openly finance the ‘brain’ of the most spectacular and lethal terrorist attack in History, one that shook the foundations of the first world power and caused nearly 3,000 victims, and manage to avoid any prosecution or indictment?Even worse, can you be on the blacklists of the UN and the US Treasury and continue surreptitiously accessing your supposedly frozen assets to take out the tidy sum of 120 million dollars per year, i.e. $10,000 per month?
The answer is yes, provided you are a Qatari citizen protected by the most influential figures in this extremely rich gas-producing Emirate!
The recent revelations by the Wall Street Journal on the shortcomings of the UN sanctions against the financers of terrorism have lifted the lid off the bizarre story of Khalifa al-Subaiy, an eminent figure in the Central Bank of Qatar and generous benefactor… of al-Qaida!
When the preparations for the 9/11 attacks entered their active phase in spring 2000, al-Subaiy was at the head of the fight against money laundering and financial crime in the Central Bank of Qatar (see the column by Roland Jacquard, page 10). An ideal cover to carry out, with complete impunity, his secret activities as a financial backer of the highest echelons of al-Qaida, among them the ‘brain’ of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed.
We had to wait seven years to see the name of this ‘terror sponsor’ written down on the blacklists of the UN and the US Treasury. His bank accounts were theoretically frozen at the time. However, we now discover that the Qatari authorities intervened before the Security Council to obtain exemptions that would allow him to withdraw no less than $120,000 per year from his ‘frozen assets’ without anyone expressing the slightest concern for more than a decade!
Even more serious, US diplomatic telegrams revealed by WikiLeaks indicate that as well as these exemptions that allowed him to access a part of his frozen assets, al-Subaiy also has an active bank account, something that should be forbidden to anyone wanted for funding terrorism. These telegrams also provide proof that the US authorities knew about the largesse he benefited from and have not done anything, or hardly anything, to put a stop to it.
We had to wait until March 2008, following a sentence in absentia condemning al-Subaiy in Bahrain for activities supporting terrorism after 9/11, for the US Administration to finally exert pressure on Doha forcing them to undertake proceedings against him. As a result, he was imprisoned, but senior figures from the Qatari power soon intervened to obtain his release. They did such a good job that he was freed less than six months later, and the sub-Secretary of the US Treasury, David Cohen, made a feeble protest, lamenting that “the authorities in Doha adopt lax jurisdictions in the fight against the funding of terrorism”.
Bolstered by this impunity, guaranteed to him by his closeness to certain key members of the princely family of Qatar such as the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani, al-Subaiy did not take long to return to his activities as a ‘terror sposor’ by raising funds -once again- for networks linked to al-Qaida and ISIS. He does not even conceal these activities, and even goes as far as disseminating videos on social media in which he exhorts his countrymen to make donations to the Jihadist cause.
– 11 September 2001: The attacks on the Twin Towers of the Word Trade Center in New York, causing 2,977 deaths.
– 1 March 2003: The ‘brain’ behind 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, is arrested in Rawalpindi (Pakistan).
– March 2008: The Qatari authorities imprison Khalifa al-Subaiy, and then release him six months later.
– 10 October 2008: The UN Security Council puts al-Subaiy on the blacklist of financers of terrorism.
– 20 June 2019: The Wall Street Journal reveals that al-Subaiy gets around the freezing of his assets and continues to finance terrorism.