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.”