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Qatar made $200m in ransom payments to terror groups, report claims

LONDON: A new report from the Henry Jackson Society claims extremist groups Al-Nusra and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham have received as much as $200 million in ransoms paid or facilitated by Qatar.

The report coincides with a visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May to the region this week where she highlighted the importance of combating the threat of groups from Hezbollah to Daesh.

“The report raises some troubling questions about Qatar’s regional policies,” said Kyle Orton, author and research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

“Despite finding that in a number of areas Qatar has made significant improvements over time, it shows that the effects of prior policies— notably in Syria and Libya— will be lasting and deleterious.

“There is still progress to be made in terms of cracking down on terror finance from Qatar and the use of its state-run media as a platform for incitement and the dissemination of extremism.”

Though Qatar has for some time positioned itself as a mediator and safe-haven for dissidents, it also hosts a number of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Taliban, the report found.

It recommends that while Britain should avoid publicly taking sides in the broader dispute between the Gulf states, Downing Street should use its influence in the region to press for changes in Qatar’s ransom payments policy, the appearance of extremists on state-run media and make major improvements in human rights.

The Anti-Terror Quartet — comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — cut links with Qatar in early June over allegations it supports extremists. Qatar denies the claim.

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