This summer 2019 will have been the season of all extremes for Qatar.
It all began on June 20, with an investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealing that one of Al-Qaeda’s most famous silversmiths, Khalifa al-Subaiy, who was notably the financier of the “September 11 brain”, continues to carry out his activities as a “patron of terror”, protected from the high protections he enjoys within the Qatari establishment.
Then the scandals broke out.
On July 22, the New York Times revealed a controversial telephone conversation between Qatar’s ambassador to Mogadishu, Hassan Bin Hamza Bin Hashem, and the businessman close to the Qatar Emir, Khalifa Kayed al-Muhanadi. In this exchange, the two men bragged about having sponsored a terrorist attack in May in Bossaso, Somalia.
The next day (July 23) we learned that Fahad Bin Hamad al-Tahni, one of the Prince of Qatar’s brothers, is the subject of a federal complaint in the United States for having ordered assassination attempts against American citizens. And less than a week later, another brother of the Emir, Khalid Bin Hamad al-Thani, was in the news: his name is mentioned in an investigation into the financing of radical medersas in Pakistan. Worse still, we learned that the Salafi Jihadist sympathies of this emir were an “open secret known to all the Western chancelleries”!
Then, on August 5, the resounding scandal of the Al Rayan Bank broke out in London. According to The Times, this Islamic bank is being used by the Qatar authorities to finance 14 terrorist organisations in Great Britain! The former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani, was quick to sell off his luxurious properties in London and Paris.
On the surface, the panic that has seized the former head of Qatari diplomacy is surprising. Especially since he is used to this type of scandal (financing of the Al Nusra front, the purchase of Printemps in Paris and Barclays Bank in London, etc.). In fact, Hamad Bin Jassim is rightly aware that there will be a before and after the Al Rayan affair.
Indeed, following this scandal, Qatar finds itself on a slippery slope that some might compare to the one that saw former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein move from being the West’s “best friend in the Middle East” to being an enemy to be shot down!
We are only at the early stages of this turnaround. But the comments of some British politicians, such as Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, are unequivocal: “Qatar’s dishonorable support for extremists in the Middle East is well known and well documented. If they also use their great wealth and global influence to facilitate extremism right here in the United Kingdom, then the government must act quickly and firmly […] The fact that Qatar has invested heavily in the United Kingdom should not absolve or protect it“!