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)
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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:

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
Updated 6 min 59 sec ago

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
  • Geir Pederson wants enhanced international diplomacy, and tighter focus on progress in drafting new constitution
  • The fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee begins in Geneva on Monday

NEW YORK: Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, on Friday called for “more serious and cooperative” international diplomacy as part of political efforts to improve the lives of the Syrian people and develop a vision for the future of their country.

Speaking ahead of the fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which begins on Monday in Geneva, he also urged committee members to focus their efforts and work more effectively to speed up progress on constitutional reform.

Pedersen expressed hope that much-needed international engagement with the peace process is now possible.

“After all, despite the differences, key states are continuing to reaffirm their commitment to Resolution 2254,” he added, referring to the UN Security Council resolution, adopted in 2015, that calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

Pedersen, who briefed the Security Council this week on the latest developments, highlighted the fact that five foreign armies are active in Syria and “violations of Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity (have been) going on for years.”

Although the ceasefire agreement reached by Russia and Turkey in the northwest of the country resulted in a de-escalation of hostilities, Pedersen warned that this relative calm remains fragile.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) 

“All of these issues cannot be sorted out by the Syrians alone,” he said. (They) need an international cooperation (and) a real exchange of views (among all parties).

“If that political will is lacking it would be very, very difficult to move this process forward ... if you leave this to the UN alone, we will not be able to succeed.”

Top on the agenda on Monday will be discussion of the basic principles of the Syrian constitution. Pedersen said he has been meeting with the two co-chairs of the committee on a regular basis, and has also had intensive discussions with the “Middle Third” civil-society group, which includes society activists and experts and other independents from inside and outside of Syria.

His experiences during the past year, he said, lead him to believe there is potential for finding common ground. No single actor or group of actors can impose its will on Syria or settle the conflict alone — they must work together, he added.

The time has now come for the co-chairs of the Constitutional Committee to organize and focus its efforts by establishing “more effective and operational working methods,” Pedersen said, so that they can begin to move forward from preparing constitutional reforms to actually drafting them, and agreeing on clear agendas and discussion topics for future meetings.

“There needs to be more urgency (in) delivering progress in this process,” he added.

As he saluted the work of civil society groups and “all the Syrians who do what they can to improve the situation on the ground and support a political process,” Pedersen singled out women in particular for praise. He has been particularly proactive in seeking input from the Women’s Advisory Board.

“It is a priority for all of us to make sure that we have full participation of Syrian women in the political process,” he said. “(Promoting) their core constitutional rights is central for me, as the facilitator of the work of the Constitutional Committee.”

Asked about plans for large-scale prisoner swaps, Pedersen said that although this is not on the agenda for the talks in Geneva this week, it is always part of his own agenda. The disappointment over the lack of progress on the issue so far means “that we should work even harder” on it, he added.

“This is a file that really has an impact on nearly every Syrian family, and it needs to be addressed,” he said. “(I) have appealed (for) more information on the missing. (We) need to see the early release of women, children, the elderly and the sick, and I think (nothing) should stop that from happening.”

The members of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee are due to arrive in Geneva on Saturday, and Pedersen will consult with the co-chairs over the weekend before the main talks begin on Monday.

Asked whether he expects this latest round of negotiations to be a success for the UN, Pedersen said: “I really do not think this is the question; the question (is) whether it is a success for the Syrian people and (their) aspirations.

“My hope has been that the Constitutional Committee, if it is handled in the correct manner, could start to build trust and (be) a door-opener for a broader political process.

“But the (committee) cannot work in isolation ... we need political will from the different parties to be able to move forward.”

He added: “The (committee) is just one aspect, and it is not the one aspect that will solve the Syrian crisis. If we are to see changes in the situation on the ground, there are other factors that need to be discussed.”