Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel

Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel
Qatar, which hosts a major American and European Air Force Base near Doha, is one of the largest financial supporters of Hamas. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 June 2020

Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel

Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel
  • Lawsuit says Qatar sought to evade US sanctions by channeling the money through three entities
  • Representing 51 plaintiffs and 10 victims, the lawsuit alleges Qatar finances Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad

CHICAGO: A “wrongful death” lawsuit has been filed against Qatar’s royal family by relatives of 10 Americans who were either killed or seriously injured during terrorist attacks in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank between 2014 and 2016.

Representing 51 plaintiffs and 10 victims, the lawsuit, which was filed in a New York court on Wednesday, alleges that Qatar finances Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which are both designated as “terrorist organizations” by the US government.

According to the lawsuit, which seeks compensation for the victims’ families, Qatar sought to evade US sanctions by channeling its funds through three entities.

These have been identified as Qatar Charity, a member of the US-sanctioned “Union of Good,” which is a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” because of its association with Hamas, and two banks controlled by Qatar’s royal family, Masraf Al-Rayan and Qatar National Bank (QNB).

The chairman of the board of Qatar Charity is Hamad bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family.

“Like any enterprise, terrorist organizations need money to operate. But unlike legitimate organizations, terrorist organizations like Hamas rely on sympathetic nation states and financial institutions who employ creative fundraising strategies to disguise their operations and evade anti-terrorism laws. Often terrorist financing is disguised as charitable contributions,” the lawsuit asserts.

According to the lawsuit: “It has long been the official policy of the government of Qatar to provide financial support to the Hamas terrorist organization. It is thus no surprise that Masraf Al Rayan bank, Qatar Charity, and Qatar National Bank, which are dominated by the Qatari government and royal family, have joined in that effort.”

On the one hand, Qatar hosts two US military bases — at Al-Udeid, home to 11,000 American military personnel, and in Al-Sailiya, a suburb just outside Doha.

On the other hand, as the lawsuit states, Qatar is one of the largest financial supporters of Hamas, the Palestinian group in control of the Gaza Strip, having given it more than $50 million over the years.

“In 2008, Palestinian officials claimed that Qatar provided Hamas with millions of dollars a month that was nominally intended for the people of Gaza,” said the lawsuit.

Hamas rose to prominence during the first intifada, becoming the principal opponent of the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

The group carried out a series of deadly suicide bombings in February and March 1996 in retaliation for the assassination in December 1995 of its chief bomb maker, Yahya Ayyash.

The attacks were widely blamed for turning Israeli public opinion against the peace process and bringing hawkish opponents of the Oslo Accords to power.

The New York lawsuit is backed up by an extensive investigation, the findings of which make for chilling reading. For instance, it accuses QNB of maintaining an account for “Husam Badran, a Hamas Politburo spokesperson and former leader of Hamas’ military wing in the Northern West Bank.”

“The name associated with the account is ‘Husam Badran,’ and the second and third digits of the Qatar national identification number associated with that individual indicate that this ‘Husam Badran’ was born in 1966, the same year as the notorious terrorist of the same name,” the lawsuit says.

“The account information lists a Doha post office box and notes that the account has been open since at least August 2015. As a Hamas military leader, Badran orchestrated the 2001 Sbarro Pizza bombing in Jerusalem, killing 15 and injuring 130; the 2001 bombing of the Dolphinarium Discotheque in Tel Aviv, killing 21 and wounding 120; the 2002 bombing of the Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, killing 30 and injuring 140; and the 2002 bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa, killing 14 and injuring 33.”

In March 2014, David Cohen, then the undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the US Treasury Department, singled out Qatar as an especially “permissive jurisdiction” for terrorist financing, noting that Qatar “has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability.”

Qatari oversight is so lax that “several major Qatar-based fundraisers act as local representatives for larger terrorist fundraising networks that are based in Kuwait,” said Cohen.

The victims named in the lawsuit were all US Citizens living in Israel with dual Israeli citizenship, and include:

• Taylor Force who was allegedly murdered by a Hamas operative on March 8, 2016. a native of Lubbock, Texas who graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute (a secondary school) and then West Point in 2009 and served tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

• The 13-year-old daughter of Rina Ariel, identified only as “H.Y.A.,” was murdered in her sleep allegedly by a Hamas terrorist on June 30, 2016.

• The minor son of Abraham Ron Fraenkel and Rachel Devora Sprecher Fraenkel, identified only as “Y.N.F., was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists.

• Yehudah Glick was severely wounded in a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror attack on Oct. 29, 2014 and. Glick is currently a member of the Israeli Knesset and has renounced his US citizenship.

• Richard Lakin was killed in a Hamas attack on Oct. 13, 2015.

• The minor daughter of Shmuel Elimelech Braun and Chana Braun, identified only as “C.Z.B.,” was killed on Oct. 22, 2014 in an alleged Hamas terrorist attack.

• Menachem Mendel Rivkin was seriously injured when he was allegedly stabbed by a Hamas terrorist on Jan. 27, 2016.

• Plaintiffs Yoav Golan and Rotem Shoshana Golan were injured on Dec. 14, 2016 when an alleged Hamas terrorist deliberately drove a car into a crowd of people waiting at a bus station.

• Plaintiff Raphael (“Rafi”) Lisker was stabbed in the neck on Dec. 23, 2106 allegedly by a Hamas terrorist while walking home from Sabbath services with his wife Shoshana.

• Noam Michael Shamba was injured on Dec. 14, 2015 in a terrorist attack allegedly perpetrated by a Hamas operative.

On March 23, 2018, US President Donald Trump signed the Taylor Force Act, which blocks American financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), asserting that the PA was paying stipends to individuals who commit acts of terrorism.

Palestinians have defended the payouts, describing them as “welfare payments” made to support the surviving families of the suspects whose homes were destroyed by Israel’s government policy of “collective punishment.”

The lawsuit alleges funds provided by Hamas through Masraf Al-Rayan bank are tied to the attacks.

It says the bank is under investigation in the UK under provision of “financial services to Qatar Charity in knowing support of that organization’s financial support of Hamas and PIJ.”

Qatar Charity solicited donations in Qatar and around the world and then transferred those funds to its account at Masraf Al-Rayan in Doha, the lawsuit says.

The funds deposited at Masraf Al-Rayan were transferred in US dollars through a correspondent bank in New York and then funneled into Qatar Charity’s accounts at either the Bank of Palestine or the Islamic Bank in Ramallah.

In the final step, Qatar Charity’s local branches distributed the funds in US dollars from those local accounts to Hamas, the PIJ and their affiliates to finance acts of terrorism in Israel, the lawsuit says.

Despite the accumulated evidence of Qatar’s support for terrorism, the US, UK and other coalition countries continue to use the Al-Udeid airbase, 20 miles southwest of Doha.

Between 2012 to 2018 the Qatari royal family invested, through the Qatar Foundation, more than $1.4 billion in setting up local campuses of US colleges and universities. The investments were seen as aimed at countering criticism of Doha’s support of terrorist organizations.

This is not the first lawsuit Qatar has faced in recent times. Last year in July, Rebecca Castaneda, an attorney in Tampa, Florida, filed a federal lawsuit against Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad Al-Thani, a brother of Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

The lawsuit says Sheikh Khaled threatened two American contractors for not killing his enemies.

Castaneda has said the original lawsuit is being expanded to include three more American plaintiffs who allege “even worse violence.”

The witnesses claim Sheikh Khaled murdered an Indian employee who insulted his wife, and made seven solicitations for murder, including wanting to kill a leader in the American race car sports industry.

“Sheikh Khaled is a very violent person,” Castaneda said.

Now read the lawsuit:

The summons:


‘Accident’ strikes Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility

‘Accident’ strikes Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility
Updated 11 April 2021

‘Accident’ strikes Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility

‘Accident’ strikes Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility
  • Behrouz Kamalvandi said there were no injuries nor pollution caused by the incident
  • Iran later called the incident sabotage

TEHRAN: Iran's Natanz nuclear site suffered a problem Sunday involving its electrical distribution grid just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges that more quickly enrich uranium, state TV reported. It was the latest incident to strike one of Tehran's most-secured sites amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers.
State TV quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran's civilian nuclear program, announcing the incident.
Kamalvandi said there were no injuries or pollution cause by the incident.
The word state television used in its report attributed to Kamalvandi in Farsi can be used for both “accident” and “incident.” It didn't immediately clarify the report, which ran at the bottom of its screen on its live broadcast. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the civilian arm of its nuclear program, did not immediately issue a formal statement about the incident on its website.
Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion in July that authorities later described as sabotage. Israel, Iran's regional archenemy, has been suspected of carrying out an attack there, as well as launching other assaults, as world powers now negotiate with Tehran in Vienna over its nuclear deal.
On Saturday, Iran announced it had launched a chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges at the plant, injecting them with the uranium gas and beginning their rapid spinning. Officials also began testing the IR-9 centrifuge, which they say will enrich uranium 50 times faster than Iran's first-generation centrifuges, the IR-1. The nuclear deal limited Iran to using only IR-1s for enrichment.
Since then-President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran has abandoned all the limits of its uranium stockpile. It now enriches up to 20% purity, a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran maintains its atomic program is for peaceful purposes, but fears about Tehran having the ability to make a bomb saw world powers reach the deal with the Islamic Republic in 2015.
The deal lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for it limiting its program and allowing inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to keep a close watch on its work.


Libya launches COVID-19 vaccination drive after delays

Libya launches COVID-19 vaccination drive after delays
Updated 11 April 2021

Libya launches COVID-19 vaccination drive after delays

Libya launches COVID-19 vaccination drive after delays
  • The country's healthcare system has been strained by years of political turmoil and violence
  • Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh called it a "blessed day" in the fight against COVID-19 after receiving his shot

TRIPOLI: Libya's new unity government launched a long-delayed COVID-19 vaccination programme on Saturday after receiving some 160,000 vaccine doses over the past week, with the prime minister receiving his jab on live television.
While Libya is richer than its neighbours due to oil exports, the country's healthcare system has been strained by years of political turmoil and violence, and it has struggled to cope during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh called it a "blessed day" in the fight against COVID-19 after receiving his shot, without saying which vaccine he had been given. At least 100,000 of the doses that arrived this week were Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
Dbeibeh's interim Government of National Unity was sworn in last month after emerging through a UN-facilitated process with a mandate to unify the country, improve state services and oversee the run-up to a national election in December.
Dbeibeh's government has framed the delivery of vaccines and the national roll-out as evidence that it is improving the lives of ordinary Libyans after replacing two warring administrations that ruled in the east and west of the country.
"Through the political consultations and the efforts of the prime minister, the vaccine is available," said Health Minister Ali Al-Zanati, who has said previously the government had so far ordered enough doses to inoculate 1.4 million of the country's more than six million people.
Libya's National Centre for Disease Control has said more than 400,000 people have registered for vaccination in more than 400 centres around the country.
Libya has recorded more than 166,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 3,000 deaths, though UN envoys have said the true figures are likely far higher.
"I feel sorry that the vaccine arrived late in Libya after thousands were infected. But better late than never," said Ali al-Hadi, a shop owner, adding that his wife had been sick with COVID-19 and recovered.
Many Libyans fear the vaccination campaign could be marred by political infighting or favouritism after years of unrest.
"We hope the Health Ministry will steer away from political conflicts so that services can reach patients," said housewife Khawla Muhammad, 33. 


Suez Canal receives Middle East’s largest dredger

Suez Canal receives Middle East’s largest dredger
A file photo shows a dredger trying to free the Panama-flagged MV Ever Given long vessel across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2021

Suez Canal receives Middle East’s largest dredger

Suez Canal receives Middle East’s largest dredger
  • Its maximum drilling depth is 35 m and the dredger has control, safety and security systems matching the latest standards of international supervisory bodies

CAIRO: Egypt has welcomed the largest dredger of its kind in the Middle East, the “Mohab Mamish,” on board the heavy transport vessel Xiang Rui Kou.

Dredgers are advanced drilling equipment used by the Suez Canal to cleanse the waterway of sand and mud deposits, contributing to its expansion and deepening.

The Suez Canal showed its reliance on dredgers in the rescue and re-float operation of the giant container ship “Ever Given,” which ran aground in the shipping course on March 23. The incident caused the canal’s closure for six days.

Sources said that the dredger, inaugurated by the Dutch IHC Shipyard, would begin its new duties within the Suez Canal fleet soon.

The “Mohab Mamish” has a length of 147.4 meters, a width of 23 m, a depth of 7.7 m, and a draft of 5.5 m. It has a productivity of 3,600 cubic meters of sand per hour over a length of 4 km.

Its maximum drilling depth is 35 m and the dredger has control, safety and security systems matching the latest standards of international supervisory bodies.

The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie, said the “Mohab Mamish” was one of the vessels used to boost the canal’s development and that the dredging fleet was the main pillar in the strategy for developing the canal’s shipping course.

It provided the best guarantee to maintain the canal’s 24-meter depth, allowing the crossing of giant ships with large submersibles.

Rabie added that the canal’s dredging fleet had recently expanded its work, joining in with the development of Egypt’s ports and the disinfection of lakes.

IHC is working on launching another dredger for the Suez Canal called “Hussein Tantawi.” The two dredgers have a combined value of €300 million ($357.06 million).

Rabie also said the authority’s machines would be developed and the tensile strength would be adjusted to carry 250,000 tons, in comparison to the current 160,000 tons to match the tonnage and size of ships crossing the shipping course.


Iran boosts nuclear program in snub to US

Iran boosts nuclear program in snub to US
Updated 11 April 2021

Iran boosts nuclear program in snub to US

Iran boosts nuclear program in snub to US
  • President Hassan Rouhani inaugurates cascades of 164 IR-6 centrifuges and 30 IR-5 devices at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant
  • The new move is a direct challenge to the US, after talks began last week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal

TEHRAN/JEDDAH: Iran on Saturday started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in breach of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to curb its nuclear program.

The new move is a direct challenge to the US, after talks began last week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. Washington said it had offered “very serious” ideas on rescuing the agreement, which collapsed in 2018 when the US withdrew, but was waiting for Tehran to reciprocate.

Tehran’s response came on Saturday, when President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a cascade of 164 IR-6 centrifuges for producing enriched uranium, as well as two test cascades of 30 IR-5 and 30 IR-6S devices at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, in a ceremony broadcast by state television.

Rouhani also launched tests on the “mechanical stability” of its latest-generation IR-9 centrifuges, and remotely opened a centrifuge assembly factory to replace a plant that was badly damaged in a July 2020 explosion widely attributed to Israel.

Rouhani again underlined at the ceremony, which coincided with Iran’s National Nuclear Technology Day, that Tehran’s nuclear program is solely for “peaceful” purposes.

Under the 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers, Iran is permitted to use only “first-generation” IR-1 centrifuges for production, and to test a limited number of IR-4 and IR-5 devices.

When the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, Donald Trump reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran, which responded by stepping up its nuclear enrichment to levels prohibited under the JCPOA.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Iran’s latest move follows an opening round of talks in Vienna Tuesday with representatives of the remaining parties to the deal on bringing the US back into it.

All sides said the talks, in which Washington is not participating directly but is relying on the EU as an intermediary, got off to a good start.

However, US allies in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, believe any revived deal should also cover Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional meddling through proxy militias in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.

Iran has demanded that the US lift all sanctions imposed by Trump before it resumes compliance with the JCPOA. The US insists that Iran must act first.

“The United States team put forward a very serious idea and demonstrated a seriousness of purpose on coming back into compliance if Iran comes back into compliance,” a US official said.

But the official said the US was waiting for its efforts to be reciprocated by Iran.

Iran is also demanding an end to all US restrictions, but the JCPOA covers only nuclear sanctions and not US measures taken in response to human rights and terrorism issues.

(With AFP)


Coptic prayers suspended in Egypt as virus cases rise

Coptic prayers suspended in Egypt as virus cases rise
Egyptian Christians worshippers attend Christmas Eve mass at the Coptic Catholic St. Mark Church in Minya city, in Cairo on January 6, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2021

Coptic prayers suspended in Egypt as virus cases rise

Coptic prayers suspended in Egypt as virus cases rise
  • Prayers will be limited to priests and a few deacons during the restrictions

CAIRO: Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has suspended Mass prayers in seven dioceses following a rise in daily coronavirus cases.

Prayers were suspended at the dioceses of the Virgin Mary in Fayoum, Archangel Michael in Aswan, Asna and Armant in Luxor, Akhmim in Sohag, Tahta and Juhaina in Sohag, Nag Hammadi in Qena, and Sohag.

“The suspension follows a significant increase in coronavirus cases recently,” said Besada El-Anba, bishop of Akhmim.

He said that priests will continue daily Mass with a number of deacons without people attending for an indefinite period.

“The diocese of Aswan started suspending Coptic prayers in churches during the holy week and resurrection,” the bishop added.

“Mass prayers will be limited to priests and a limited number of deacons,” said Bishop Hani Bakhoum of Sohag.

Anba Kyrillos, bishop of Nag Hammadi, said that the suspension of prayers will begin on Monday and will continue on until further notice, depending on health advice.

Prayers will be limited to priests and a few deacons during the restrictions.

Other dioceses have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak of the virus, including holding Mass with 25 percent of the church’s capacity, stopping church activities, services, Sunday schools and conferences, and closing cemeteries.

Priests have also been advised against making home visits.