At last Qatar admits own nationals, agencies are sponsors of terrorism
Qatar said on Thursday it had placed 28 people and entities on terrorism list, including several Qatari nationals already blacklisted by rival Arab states who accused Doha of supporting militants. This new move is an admission of the charge by neighbours that Qatar is a sponsor of terrorism around the world. Qatar had denied the charge sparking diplomatic row among the nations.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt imposed travel, diplomatic and trade sanctions on Qatar in June 2017. They accused the country of financing terrorism, meddling in the affairs of Arab states and supporting their arch-rival Iran.
Doha called the charges “baseless allegations” and accused the countries of seeking to curtail its sovereignty.
Adding to the number of suspects identified in October, Doha’s new list, published on the official website of its National Counter Terrorism Committee, included some individuals first named by its rivals, but stopped short of mentioning more mainstream Islamists whose regional influence they oppose.
The move appeared to bring Qatar’s blacklist more in line with that of the Arab states, but the motivation for its publication remained unclear.
A Qatari government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The four Arab countries, which have called themselves the “Anti-Terror Quartet”, maintain a list of 72 people and organisations they say have links to Doha.
Mentioned on the new list were two Qatari citizens who were described by the boycotting countries as financiers of the Islamist militant Nusra Front group fighting in Syria whose whereabouts was not clear.
Absent from the list was the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars, which was formed in 2004 mostly by clerics belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and chaired by the Egyptian Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi.
The group and Qaradawi are both blacklisted by Doha’s rivals.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash posted on Twitter: “Apart from its obstinacy, Qatar is confirming the evidence against it and that its support for extremism and terrorism is at the heart of its crisis.”
Qatar had listed 13 alleged al Qaeda and Islamic State militants in October in a joint move with the U.S. and five other Gulf Arab states, including those who boycotted.
The U.S., which hosts a major air base in Qatar, has sought to resolve the diplomatic dispute.
While President Donald Trump initially accused Qatar of funding terrorism in the past “at a very high level”, he thanked its ruler for combating terrorism in a phone call in January.