LONDON: A new report in German media has exposed how Qatar uses its vast wealth and charities to fund and infiltrate mosques, activate Muslim Brotherhood networks and buy influence across Germany.
The newly released information is part of a horde of confidential documents delivered to a French journalist in 2016.
Central to Doha’s strategy is the Qatar Charity. One of the largest charities in the world, it has been plagued by allegations of funding extremism and anti-Semitism for years.
The leaked documents reveal that Qatar Charity has used its deep pockets to fund at least 140 mosques and Islamic centers across Germany since it began its campaign — costing an estimated €72 million ($84.69 million).
In 2016 alone, the charity spent roughly €5 million on various construction projects in major German cities, including Berlin and Munich.
The relationship between these mosques and the Qatar Charity has become so intertwined, the investigation revealed, that at various times German mosque executives wrote directly to the charity’s president to request cash payments for proposed projects.
One such example is the Arab-German Association of Ulm, which experts suspect to be Brotherhood-aligned.
The head of the association wrote directly to Qatar Charity, opening with “who builds a mosque, Allah builds a house in paradise,” before requesting funding to buy a property and build a mosque, followed by the association’s bank details.
Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, the French journalists who revealed the extent of Qatari infiltration into Germany, are clear that it is part of a wider foreign policy strategy by Doha that mobilizes Brotherhood networks at a grassroots level while using Qatar’s huge cash reserves to buy leverage at a governmental level.
They said as Qatar has found itself increasingly isolated in the Gulf — due to its terrorist financing and extremism — it is now looking further afield to spread its influence.
Viewing the European country as a potential powerful ally, Chesnot and Malbrunot said in exchange for German support, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani promised billions of euros of investment.
This, they said, is part of a dual strategy that has already played out in France: “Religious infiltration from Qatar, coupled with an intensification of economic and political relationships.”