Brother of Qatari emir accused of plotting double murder

Matthew Pittard, a security professional, claims he was threatened at gunpoint in September 2017 after refusing to carry out Sheikh Khaled’s orders to murder an unnamed man and woman. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 13 August 2019

Brother of Qatari emir accused of plotting double murder

  • Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani is accused of ordering a member of security to carry our a murder
  • The sheikh is also accused of imprisoning an American in his palace in Qatar

Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani, the brother of Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, ordered a member of his security staff to murder two people, according to a lawsuit filed by two former employees.

It was submitted to a Florida court on July 23 by Matthew Pittard, a security professional, and Matthew Allende, who was hired to be a round-the-clock medic for Sheikh Khaled, a racing-car driver. 

Pittard claims that he was threatened at gunpoint in September 2017 after refusing to carry out Sheikh Khaled’s orders to murder an unnamed man and woman the sheikh said were threats to his social reputation. The incident is said to have happened in Los Angeles, California.

The following year, according to the lawsuit, Sheikh Khaled imprisoned an American in his palace in Qatar. The unnamed captive was arrested on Sheikh Khaled’s orders and held at for a time at Onaiza Police Station in Doha, as well as at his residence, it is claimed.

When he discovered that Pittard had helped the captive escape, the sheikh told him “he would kill him, bury his body in the desert, and kill Pittard’s family,” it is alleged. Pittard said Sheikh Khaled threatened him with a Glock 26 automatic pistol and ordered him to reveal the whereabouts of the American or “pay the price.” He was later fired.

According to the court documents, Allende was also threatened with a gun, and forced to work long hours with little time off. He eventually climbed a 2-meter security fence and jumped from the top of a 6-meter wall to escape Sheik Khaled’s Qatari compound after he was refused permission to leave for a previously arranged day off.

“There is no circumstance in any country where asking someone to execute two people on someone’s behalf is appropriate,” said lawyer Rebecca Lynn Castaneda, who is representing Pittard and Allende. “It’s not OK. It’s not acceptable. It’s illegal. It’s pretty egregious. Pittard and Allende said there were several situations in which they were put by the defendant that were totally inappropriate.”

She said her clients are seeking $33 million in damages because Sheikh Khaled’s  actions prevented them from pursuing their careers, including interference in a security, law-enforcement and arms-brokerage contract Pittard had negotiated with the Police Training Institute in Doha. Sheikh Khaled is being sued personally, and his two companies, GEO Strategic Defense Solutions and KH Holdings are also named in the lawsuit.

Sheikh Khaled “created an environment of fear and intimidation. Defendant’s behavior has gone beyond a term of employment and intentionally extended into Pittard’s business and personal and professional lives,” the lawsuit claims.

Castaneda said the judge had issued a summons ordering Sheikh Khaled to appear in court. She said she expected the legal process to continue for many months and the case is “a long way from trial.”


Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

Updated 20 October 2019

Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

  • Jamal Ibrahim saw his sisters get raped by militiamen in Darfur

CAMP KALMA: For Jamal Ibrahim, whose sisters were raped by militiamen in Darfur, only the handover of Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court can bring peace to the restive Darfur region.
“Two of my sisters were raped in front of my eyes by militiamen who stormed through our village, setting our houses on fire,” Ibrahim, 34, told AFP at Camp Kalma, a sprawling facility where tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur have lived for years.
“Bashir and his aides who committed the crimes in Darfur must be handed over to the ICC if peace is to be established in the region.”
Ibrahim, who is from Mershing in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of Darfur, said his village was attacked by Arab militiamen in March 2003 soon after conflict erupted in the region.
The fighting broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s then Arab-dominated government under Bashir, alleging racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of mostly Arab raiding nomads that it recruited and armed to create a militia of gunmen who were often mounted on horses or camels.
They have been accused of applying a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The brutal campaign earned Bashir and others arrest warrants from The Hague-based ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
About 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.
Bashir, who denies the ICC charges, was ousted by the army in April after months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule of three decades.
He is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption, but war victims like Ibrahim want the ex-leader to stand trial at the ICC, something the northeast African country’s new authorities have so far resisted.
Ibrahim said his father and his uncle were shot dead when militiamen, riding on camels, rampaged through their village.
“We fled from there... and came to this camp. Since then we have not returned to our village,” Ibrahim told an AFP correspondent who visited Camp Kalma last week.
Established near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, Camp Kalma is one of the largest facilities hosting people displaced by the conflict.
It is a sprawling complex of dusty tracks lined with mud and brick structures, including a school, a medical center and a thriving market, where everything from clothes to mobile phones are sold.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims live in such camps, subsisting on aid provided by the UN and other international organizations.
In Camp Kalma, hundreds of women and children queue up daily to collect their monthly quota of food aid.
“Often the officials here tell us that we must return to our village, but we can’t because our lands are occupied by others,” said a visibly angry Amina Mohamed, referring to Arab pastoralists who now occupy large swathes of land that previously belonged to people from Darfur.
“We won’t accept any peace deal unless we get back our land. We will leave this camp only when those who committed the crimes are taken to the ICC.”
Even as instances of violence in Darfur, a region the size of Spain, have fallen in recent years, there are still regular skirmishes between militiamen fighting for resources and livestock.
Sudan’s new transitional authorities have vowed to bring peace to Darfur and two other conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
A Sudanese delegation led by generals and government officials is currently holding peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba with two umbrella rebel groups that fought Bashir’s forces in these three regions.
On Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, announced a “permanent cease-fire” in the three regions to show that authorities are committed to establishing peace.
But residents of Camp Kalma are not convinced, with hundreds of them staging a protest against the talks in Juba.
Musa Adam, 59, who hails from the village of Dilej but has lived in Camp Kalma for years, is in no mood to forgive Bashir.
Seven members of his family were shot dead by militiamen when they raided his village in 2003, Adam said.
“I know those militia leaders... I am ready to testify at the ICC against them as a witness to their crimes,” he said.
“Until these criminals are taken to the ICC, we cannot have peace in Darfur.”