Middle East watchers are sounding alarm bells over reported behind-the-scenes maneuverings underway to have the former prime minister of Qatar – a key sponsor of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas – appointed secretary-general of the United Nations when Ban Ki-Moon’s term expires in 2016.
“Putting him in charge of the U.N. secretary-general's post could be a nightmare,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a Persian Gulf expert who tracks Qatari terrorism financing.
That’s because Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the former Qatari prime minister known as HBJ, reportedly played a role in terrorism financing and blocking U.S. efforts to bring key terrorist players to justice.
“HBJ oversaw Qatari policy during the period in which his country became one of the worst sources in the world for terror finance,” Weinberg told TheBlaze.
The U.N. Human Rights Council in session after the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria delivered the latest report on the situation in the war-ravaged country, Sept. 16, 2014 in Geneva. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Qatar has been accused of financially supporting radical opposition groups in Syria and Iraq and has allowed private fundraising for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State group and other jihadist organizations. The reported extensive Qatari terrorist connections were surveyed in the New Republic earlier this month.
Weinberg told TheBlaze that the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, would have been placed on a U.S. terrorism financing blacklist were it not for the intervention of Qatari rulers.
“HBJ was prime minister when the U.S. blacklisted a fundraising network founded by Qaradawi as a channel for sending money to the Brotherhood’s most violent offshoot, the Palestinian terror group, Hamas,” Weinberg said.
Qatar provides funding to Hamas and allows its political leader, Khaled Mashal, to live in its capital of Doha.
During HBJ’s tenure as prime minister from 2007 to 2013 and foreign minister from 1992 to 2013, Qatar sent aid to jihadists in Libya and Syria as well as Muslim Brotherhood groups in Yemen and Tunisia, Weinberg said, not to mention nearly $8 billion in aid to the former Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Egyptian government.
Qatar funds the Al Jazeera television network, which has been accused by Egyptian authorities of biased reporting favoring the Muslim Brotherhood.
Weinberg told TheBlaze that U.S. officials have privately said that the former Qatari prime minister “used to brag about how he would use the channel as a tool of Qatari influence abroad.”
“He allegedly slow-played Qatar's response America's request to come in and arrest [9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after which one of his colleagues is believed to have tipped Mohammed off so he could flee the country,” Weinberg said. “There is no allegation that HBJ was part of tipping off Mohammed, but he clearly dropped the ball as foreign minister to help us arrest a major Al Qaeda leader.”
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported Sunday that Qatar’s current emir was “looking into politically compensating his former prime minister” by helping him secure the secretary-general job.
Just this week, Qatar was elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, a move that was criticized by the head of U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group that monitors the U.N., who called it an "awful message."
UN just elected Qatar to its Human Rights Council, even as it abuses women, works migrants to death & bankrolls ISIS: http://t.co/4Xf5uvhY0T— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) October 21, 2014
By electing Qatar a world judge on human rights, the UN yesterday legitimized a funder of terror groups and sent awful message to the world.— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) October 22, 2014
It would be no small feat to nab the world’s top diplomatic job, and some in Israel are concerned Qatar will use its vast oil riches to buy influence with the U.N.
Qatar was tapped to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a choice some soccer fans considered unlikely given the searing desert temperatures and conservative Muslim environment.
The New York Times last month ran a report on Qatar’s efforts to influence U.S. policymakers by funding the Brookings Institution.
Israel’s Arutz Sheva news site quoted Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor who in August called Qatar a “Club Med for terrorists.”
Prosor said money Qatar has donated to Hamas meant "every one of Hamas's tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that said, 'Made possible through a kind donation of the emir of Qatar.'"