Qatar has come under spotlight being the leading terror-funding nation in the world. Since 2007, Qatari government has been consistently spending hundreds of millions of dollars towards mega-terror outfit Hamas and other terrorist entities in Gaza and West Bank. Under the radars of Israel, the United States and the UN, Hamas succeeded in building an international empire that is disguised under false names and mainly through real estate companies in the United Arab Emirates in particular while it also has investments in dozens of casinos, nightclubs, cabarets in the United States, the Philippines, Nepal, Thailand and few more countries in the world. In addition to this, Hamas is operating high-profile escort services mostly through Iranian and Jordanian nationals in Dubai. According to a source, these business ventures are directly controlled by Hamas kingpin Ismail Haniyeh and one of his sons, while the profit is shared amongst top-4 figures of this terrorist organization.
According to Doron Peskin, “over the years, the Qataris realized that they were in trouble, since the image of a country that finances terrorism stuck to them. The issue is particularly sensitive due to the desire to maintain close relations with the United States, especially before hosting the World Cup a year ago. This is why the Qataris have always made sure to claim that the aid is intended for the poorest Gazan families and to extend the hours of electricity in Gaza. They also made sure to claim that this funding actually goes through and under Israel’s supervision. As evidence, they claimed that the list of those in need is transferred to Israel every month. Bottom line, the Hamas government in Gaza reaped profits from the Qatari money that flowed into the Strip on a monthly basis. This happened not only by manipulating the oversight mechanisms – such as putting Hamas members on the list of those in need – but because it controlled the economy of the Gaza Strip and collected taxes on every economic activity that took place there”.
It may be mentioned here that, dependence of Hamas on Iran and Qatar are not just for financial aid. This mega-terror outfit has established an international economic empire that is well disguised under false names and seemingly legitimate companies. Hamas uses all the countries in which it has a presence to operate its financing network, and in this aspect, the office of Hamas in Qatar, which opened in 2012, is no different.
The leaders of Hamas and its operatives in Qatar have established a sophisticated financing network. In the past, it was reported that real estate investment companies belonging to Hamas are registered in Qatar under supposedly innocent names, including the names of females, while in some cases, Hamas is putting females from East European countries, as well as Uzbekistan and Ukraine at the front of these enterprises.
To Israeli authorities, Doha is long identified as the key funder of Hamas. Qatar is not only providing hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas, it also is harboring several key figures of this terrorist entity and granting extensive media coverage through its Al Jazeera broadcast network. According to a credible source, “Qatari money has become synonymous with the building of the terrorist empire of Hamas which has struck with all its force in Israel”.
It further said, the Qatari funding for Hamas is divided into two periods. The first, in the years 2007-2014, when the Qatari government financed Hamas as it saw fit, far from any international supervision and control, and the second from 2014 until today when Qatari financing is done in coordination with Israel, the United States and the United Nations. At the same time, independent financing channels operate all the time in Qatar, ignoring the authorities.
Recently, the authorities in the United States published a list of names of the prominent figures in the international financing network of Hamas. Among others, Muhammad Nasrallah was mentioned, a Jordanian citizen and veteran Hamas operative who settled in Doha, the capital of Qatar, and has been involved in recent years in transferring money to Hamas, including the military arm. This activist has close ties with Iran, which helps him.
Following recent announcement of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where he said: “The United States, in coordination with the UK, is imposing sanctions on individuals and entities that have supported Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups. We continue to coordinate with our partners and allies to disrupt these terrorist financing channels”, there is strong speculations about series of international sanctions targeting Qatar and several key figures in the government with stricter sanctions for their direct or indirect involvement with Hamas and other terrorist outfits in Gaza and West Bank.
In a press release issued by the US Department of State, Antony Blinken said:
The United States is announcing its third round of sanctions targeting Hamas-affiliated individuals and entities in connection with the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. The Department of State is designating Akram al-Ajouri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for being a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Ajouri is the PIJ Deputy Secretary General and leader of its militant wing, the Al-Quds Brigade. The Department of the Treasury is also designating seven individuals and two entities that have provided support to or acted on behalf of Hamas or PIJ.
Iran’s support, primarily through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, enables Hamas and PIJ’s terrorist activities, including through the transfer of funds and the provision of both weapons and operational training. Iran has trained PIJ fighters to produce and develop missiles in Gaza while also funding groups that provide financial support to PIJ-affiliated fighters.
We are taking these actions in coordination with the United Kingdom to protect the international financial system from abuse by Hamas and its enablers. We will continue to work with our partners and allies to disrupt Hamas’ terrorist financing channels.
In another press release the US Department of Treasury said:
US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed its third round of sanctions targeting Hamas-affiliated individuals and entities since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. This action designates key Hamas officials and the mechanisms by which Iran provides support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Today’s designations are coordinated with action by the U.K. and are aimed at protecting the international financial system from abuse by Hamas and their enablers. The US Department of State is concurrently designating a leader of PIJ’s military wing.
“The United States will continue to work with our partners, including the U.K., to deny Hamas the ability to raise and use funds to carry out its atrocities,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Hamas’s actions have caused immense suffering and shown that terrorism does not occur in isolation. Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts”.
This action builds on OFAC’s recent October 27 and October 18 designations of Hamas operatives and financial facilitators, as well as its May 2022 designation of officials and companies involved in managing Hamas’s secret international investment portfolio. These persons are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorist groups and their supporters.
Iranian support, primarily through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has enabled Hamas’s and PIJ’s terrorist activities, to include the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance and the furnishing of both weapons and operational training.
Nasser Abu Sharif serves as the PIJ representative to Iran, the group’s primary financier. Iran’s IRGC has trained PIJ fighters to build and develop missiles in Gaza.
PIJ’s financial activities have been carried out through the Muhjat AlQuds Foundationin Gaza, a PIJ-run, Iran-funded organization whose primary mission is to provide financial support to the families of PIJ fighters and prisoners. Hamas financial facilitators have assisted PIJ in laundering money from outside of Gaza for eventual transfer to the Muhjat AlQuds Foundation.
The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is led by PIJ political official Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan, who has distributed Iranian provided funds to PIJ personnel in Gaza. ‘Aliyan, who has served on PIJ’s executive committee, has overseen PIJ finances as it relates to important group logistics.
Nasser Abu Sharif and Jamil Yusuf Ahmad ‘Aliyan are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, PIJ. The Muhjat AlQuds Foundation is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, PIJ.
Additionally, today, the Department of State designated Akram al-Ajouri (Ajouri), the Damascus-based Deputy Secretary General of PIJ and leader of the Al-Quds Brigades, PIJ’s militant wing. Ajouri coordinated the militant training and recruitment operations for PIJ in Gaza, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Yemen. Ajouri is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for being a leader of PIJ.
Hamas uses the Lebanon-based money exchange company Nabil Chouman & Co (Chouman) to transfer money from Iran to Gaza. For several years, the company has served as a conduit for transferring funds to Hamas, transferring tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist organization. Chouman owner and founder Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, together with his son Khaled Chouman and another Lebanon-based money exchanger Reda Ali Khamis (Khamis) worked with Hamed Ahmed al-Khudari (Khudari). Khudari was a member of Hamas and its militant wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and a prominent money exchanger for the group until his death in 2019. Khamis was involved in facilitating financial transfers from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas as well as PIJ in Gaza, and was responsible for the transfer of more than $7 million from the IRGC-QF to Hamas.
Nabil Chouman & Co, Nabil Khaled Halil Chouman, Khaled Chouman, and Reda Ali Khamis are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hamas.
Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar (Zahhar) is a senior member and co-founder of Hamas who has worked closely with Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Zahhar has spoken publicly on behalf of Hamas, including in formal interviews, to threaten violence against Jewish civilians and emphasize its commitment to the destruction of Israel. As a Hamas representative, Zahhar has also acknowledged and thanked Iran for its support of Hamas.
Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.
Additionally,Mu’ad Ibrahim Muhammed Rashid al-Atiliis being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Hamas.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.
In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List.
Treasury remains committed to enabling the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance supporting the basic human needs of vulnerable populations, while continuing to deny resources to terrorists and other malicious actors.
Accordingly, OFAC sanctions programs contain provisions for legitimate humanitarian support to vulnerable populations, including authorizations for certain humanitarian transactions in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities to ensure legitimate support is reaching the intended recipients. For more information, please review relevant authorizations and guidance on OFAC’s website.
Romance between Qatar and Hamas
Hamas became an object of greatest attention to the Qatari rulers when it carried out a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. In 2012, the emir of Qatar at the time and the father of today’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, became the first head of state to visit Gaza under the rule of Hamas and pledged to raise US$400 million to be used for the economic rehabilitation of the strip. Since then Doha has been continuously funding Hamas both through open and secret channels.
Prior to overthrow of the Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in Egypt, in July 2013, a document was circulated in the Arab media, supposedly from the Central Bank of Qatar, in which the transfer of US$250 million to the Political Bureau of Hamas was approved. It was then claimed that this amount was transferred as a special grant intended to protect Morsi’s rule through Hamas terrorists. The document’s authenticity has been questioned, but its publication reflected the atmosphere created around Qatar’s activities at the time. After the overthrow of Morsi and the return of the army to power, it was reported that Qatar transferred to Hamas a special adaptation grants worth US$350 million.