Doha regime condemned over Qatari bank’s funding of Islamists

The accounts of Al-Rayan customers were closed or frozen by other western banks. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 August 2019

Doha regime condemned over Qatari bank’s funding of Islamists

  • A banned charity in the US has an account with the bank
  • A previous chief executive of the bank was also a director of a British affiliate for an international religious organization

JEDDAH: The funding of Islamist groups in the UK by a Qatar-owned bank is further evidence of Doha’s  malign activities, analysts told Arab News on Monday.
Details emerged on Monday of the activities of Al Rayan Bank, which has its headquarters in Birmingham in central England. Among its account holders are organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hard-line preachers, and a mosque whose trustee is a Hamas leader, the UK newspaper The Times reported.
Four of Al Rayan’s customers, a mosque and three charities, have had accounts closed by major banks including HSBC and Barclays because of their activities.
The Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a trade, travel and diplomatic boycott in June 2017, in response to Qatar’s support and funding of terrorism.

Qatar has always funded militias and rogue elements. This was one of the main reasons for the boycott of Doha.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, political analyst

The exposure of the bank’s Islamist links are the latest blow to the credibility of Qatar’s denials that it supports terror. Last month a recording of a phone conversation between a Qatari businessman and the country’s ambassador to Somalia exposed Doha’s use of Al-Shabab militants to attack UAE assets in Somalia. Also in July, Italian police found a Qatar-made missile in a raid on the home of a neo-Nazi.
Al Rayan’s activities “confirm what political analysts and money-trail experts already knew,” Saudi political analyst Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. 
“Qatar has always funded militias and rogue elements. This was one of the main reasons for the boycott of Doha.
“These militias wreaking havoc in the region are financed by Qatar. Yes, they get logistical and ideological support from Iran, but the money comes from Qatar.”
Sir John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia and an Arab News columnist, accused Qatar of “systematically promoting Islamist causes.”
Qatar’s leaders “seem to believe they can fend off danger by using Qatar’s geographical position and cash to buy regional influence, as it has sought to do in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Iraq … and back Islamist movements regionally and internationally.
“It does all this in spite of repeated promises to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.”


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.