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.”


UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the town of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

  • UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses

BRUSSELS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is waiting anxiously on the outcome this month of a probe into alleged mismanagement that has dented its already severely depleted funding, one of its top officials said Monday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.
UNRWA’s director for West Bank operations Gwyn Lewis told AFP in Brussels: “We’re waiting with bated breath because it obviously has financial implications.”
She said the conclusions of the probe are expected to be delivered “around the end of October” to UN chief Antonio Guterres, who would then issue public and internal “follow-up steps.”
The timing is crucial as the agency’s three-year mandate is up for renewal this month, and money is tight.
UNRWA has been skating on very thin financial ice since last year, after US President Donald Trump decided to suspend, then yank entirely his country’s contribution to the agency’s budget, robbing it of its top donor.
Those woes were compounded by the allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors — the Netherlands and Switzerland — to snap shut their purses.
That has left the agency struggling to provide the schooling, medical and sanitary programs it runs for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a copy of an internal UN report obtained by AFP in July, senior management at UNRWA engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

FASTFACT

The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.

Lewis did not confirm those allegations, noting only “rumors” and leaks to the media.
“None of us have actually seen it,” she said of the report, adding: “Our sense is that it’s not about financial misappropriation or corruption, it’s linked to management and human resources issues.”
She did note that the agency’s deputy chief, Sandra Mitchell, had been replaced in August by an acting deputy commissioner-general tasked with strengthening human resources and financial oversight.
Lewis said she was in Brussels for two days of meetings with European Commission officials to shore up UNRWA’s mandate renewal and, importantly, to maintain funding.
Despite program cutbacks, the agency faces an $89 million shortfall for the rest of this year, she said, and “financial uncertainty” beyond that.
UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses. Making up for the pulled US funding was a “challenge,” she said.