Thursday, May 21, 2015

21-May-15: Why is this man still free? Human rights, the Qataris, dignity and football

2010 announcement by FIFA that Qatar was the successful bidder
to host the 20122 Mondial. That's the previous Qatari emir
beaming on the left.
Something about terrorism - it's clearer to us as the years go by - makes rational, otherwise intelligent people act irresponsibly and strangely. They may have a well-developed sense of right and wrong, of lawful and illicit, of moral and bestial. But once terror is added to the reality with which they cope, odd results follow.

And this is as true of governments and major international organizations as it is of prominent people and ordinary folk. And individuals throughout the length and breadth of the mass media and the news reporting industry. The engineer of the massacre that ended our daughter's life is living proof (see at the end of this post).

We focused some blog attention here on Qatar earlier this week. Our two posts looked at the outrageous arrest there of a BBC reporting team and the connection this had to one of the world's richest and most watched sporting events, the FIFA World Cup which (at least for now) is going to be hosted by Qatar in seven years. See "18-May-15: As the Qatari thug says, Disneyland it's not" and "18-May-15: Peeking behind Qatar's genteel, manicured and increasingly disastrous public relations".

Negative mass-media news about Qatar is not so common. Partly, this seems to be a function of the branding for which Qatar's management seems to have a considerable appetite. In itself, it's a subject worthy of close attention (and here's a good methodological starting point).

Qatar had been our minds before this too, mainly because of the way it's widely treated as a country while acting like a family business (there are numerous such states in the Arab world). And also because Qatar is perceived by people whose views we take seriously as a global player in the business of terrorism. It has stood close to the Hamas thugs for years, side-by-side, giving them protection, money, cover, a conduit to the civilized world, and a safe haven for its leading figures (who make no secret of it) to set up personal luxury residences and live - comfortably and well.

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, is greeted by President
Obama at White House, May 13, 2015 [Image Source]
Yet watch some of the world's major television networks - especially CNN International and BBC World - and advertisements for Qatar itself, for its airline, for its tourist attractions (2006; 2011, 2012) and its businesses, seem to appear at a rate and frequency ridiculously out of proportion to a country that has a mere 300,000 citizens. Then of course there's Qatar's own home-grown global network, the fully-owned-by-Qatar Aljazeera. Confidential US State Department cables exposed by Wikileaks said [see The Guardian] it had "proved itself a useful tool for the station's political masters". The reference is to the owners of Qatar, the Al-Thanis.

Those advertising funds that find their way to CNN and other outlets seem to deliver nice returns on investment. See "On CNN International, the ‘news’ isn’t always the news" [Columbia Journalism Review, October 28, 2014] for an indication of how that process works.

Looking at Qatar and its acceptance in polite circles around the world gets a person thinking. Being frank, that's especially so when you are the parents of a child murdered by the pampered proteges of Qatar's owners and operators [see  "30-Jul-14: Is Qatar's stupendous wealth connected with Hamas' ongoing terrorism?"]. In fact, the more we learn about aspects of the role Qatar and its dealings play on the rest of the world, the sharper is the somewhat bizarre picture that emerges. 

Qatar's Al-Nu'aymi: Man of many parts,
still walking and living free
It's unlikely most readers will immediately recognize the name Abdurrahman bin Omair Al-Nu'aymi. (Eleven different ways to write it appear in this US government press release). He's a Qatari with a distinguished profile: a one-time professor of history at Qatar University (though we don't see his name there now); an advisor to the Qatar government and well-connected to its ruling elite; a one-time president of the Qatar Football Association; an activist for a certain sort of human-rights; and, in Islamic terms, a conservative. So much so that...
When the Emir decided in 1998 to give women the right to vote, protests were heard from Islamists. One of these was Dr. Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nu’aymi, professor of history at Qatar University. He was so vocal that the emir had him arrested and put in jail, although they were friends. After a thousand days without a trial, Dr. Nu’aimi was released, but he still expresses his conservative Islamic views and heads an important intellectual center. [Source]
Prison seems not to have been an obstacle to his rise. In 2004, Al-Nu'aymi went on to co-found al-Karama (from the Arabic word for dignity), a Geneva-based NGO that purported to "uncover human rights violations in the Arab world and to help victims", and became its top official. It has a strange Wikipedia page that clearly was written, in part, by its own officers, and claims that it sought:
to contribute to an Arab World where all individuals live free, in dignity, and protected by the rule of law. With this goal in mind, the founders decided to address the most serious violations of human dignity, physical integrity and freedom, namely extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention... [and] contribute to a better understanding of human rights and raise awareness of the UN's human rights protection mechanisms in the Arab civil society... Alkarama's action, documenting and denouncing violations, has made many States in, or with interests in the region resent its work, which has led to reprisals against our organisation (smear campaigns, trials and arrests of members, accusations that the organisation was pro-Israeli, pro-Qatari, protecting terrorists or supporting political groups and other contradictory accusations)... Alkarama unambiguously and irrevocably denies all these accusations... [Wikipedia]
Along the way, Al-Nu'aymi became deeply involved with money.

The Al-Karama body went on to forge ties with the United Nations, with multiple UN organs, and with notable players in the human rights industry including Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights and others [one sourceanother source]. As the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor noted [here, December 23, 2013], this raises troubling questions regarding "the lack of due diligence and professional judgment of NGOs when selecting allies... [T]hese organizations have an obligation to review the status of the officials responsible for such collaborations, alliances, and affiliations."

When terrorism charges were leveled at its president, Al-Karama found itself profiled in a Swiss business magazine article in December 2013 ["President of Swiss foundation al Qaeda's banker?"] (The article claims Al-Nu'aymi stepped down as head of the organization once the allegations were out in the open. But the same Wikipedia profile cites a source ["Press Release by the Council of the Alkarama Foundation, 8 January 2014, retrieved 16 January 2014"] claiming the board rejected his resignation.)

What was he alleged to have done?

In November 2014, a detailed expose in the UK's Telegraph newspaper ["Terror financiers are living freely in Qatar, US discloses" | The Telegraph UK, November 16, 2014] called him one of "al-Qaeda’s most senior financiers". Al-Nu'aymi was added to the US sanctions list and identified as a terrorist at the end of 2013. The British only got around to doing the same ten months later [source].

The claims are [see "Money Trail: Terrorists for Human Rights", Eli Lake in The Daily Beast, December 20, 2013] that as a major source of funding for Islamist terrorists, Al-Nu'aymi
oversaw the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen over the last 11 years. In 2013, the [US government's announcement] says, al-Naimi ordered the transfer of nearly $600,000 to al Qaeda via the group’s representative in Syria... If the Treasury Department’s allegations are correct, the story of al-Naimi, who until Thursday was the president of al-Karama’s board, illustrates how sometimes human-rights advocacy can also be used as political cover for jihadist networks... [The Daily Beast]
Qatar's Emir Al-Thani, is greeted by Queen Elizabeth II
in London, October 29, 2014 [
Image Source]
The Telegraph quotes some very damning statements about the man and even more so about Qatar, coming from David Cohen, the US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Mr Cohen has accused Qatar and its near neighbour Kuwait of being “permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing” but until now the fate of a number of money men — identified as Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the US government — has not been known.Qatar has refused to say what has happened [to al-Nuaimi and another terror-funder who are] accused of raising millions of dollars for al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups... The revelation casts serious doubt on the Gulf state’s insistence that it does not support terrorists, including jihadists in Syria and Iraq... Al-Nuaymi, a former president of the Qatar Football Association, is accused of being one of the world’s most prolific terrorist fundraisers, accused of sending more than £1.25 million a month to al-Qaeda jihadists in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of pounds to Syria. He was designated a terrorist in the US last December and added to a British sanctions list only in October this year. [Qatar] introduced a designated terrorist list but to date not a single individual has been put on it... The US treasury believes countries such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have clamped down on jihadist financiers in recent months whereas Qatar and Kuwait have failed to tackle the issue — much to the frustration of Washington. The US... is wary about the Qatari government’s overt support for Hamas and also for the Muslim Brotherhood... Mr Cohen added: “There’s more work to do both in Qatar and Kuwait. We have been deeply engaged with both countries for a number of years. We have seen others make really substantial progress in combating terrorist financing.
It then quotes a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, who believes Cohen's revelation
proves meaningful cooperation behind the scenes [between Qatar and the West] is virtually nonexistent. “It suggests maybe the Qataris are quite happy being a permissive jurisdiction for terrorist finance. It may also bear noting that the previous emir of Qatar has reportedly praised Nuaymi as his old friend. Arrests, indictments and convictions are only one dimension of whether Qatar is taking the fight against terrorism seriously, but historically it is one of several dimensions in which the [ruling] al-Thani family has miserably failed the test. [David Weinberg, The Telegraph UK, November 16, 2014]
Qatar's response to this is more interesting than we might have expected:
In his only broadcast interview the current emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said “We don’t fund extremists” and explained that terrorism was “not acceptable in our culture and our religion”. [Then adds:] “There are differences between some countries, of who are the terrorists and who are the maybe Islamist groups, but we don’t consider them as terrorists.” [The Telegraph UK]
And that is what this is all about.

Qatar is not so different from most places. "You may say these people are terrorists but we disagree." The UK knows the man is central to the world of Islamist terror but finds it hard to actually do anything about it. Might this be connected to the phenomenal wave of Qatari investment that has found its way into the London property market, and into UK business in general?

A very partial description of Qatar's investment portfolio includes significant ownership stakes in British Airways, the Barcelona soccer teamVolkswagen, PorscheBarclays Bank, Sainsbury's, Miramax, Canary WharfRoyal Dutch Shell, London's Chelsea Barracks, London's Savoy Hotel, the luxury Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, One Hyde Park ("the world’s most expensive apartment block", the London Stock Exchange, as well as complete ownership of Harrods, Credit Suisse's London headquarters, the French football club Paris Saint-Germain, the famous London office tower The Shard, the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square, and a long list of London's choicest real estate trophies as catalogued by the Daily Mail UK. It funds religious institutions in Europe that propagate a message of "radical Islam", and is a major funder worldwide of the work of the Muslim Brotherhood. On the far side of the Atlantic, it provides lavish funding for the hugely-influential Washington-based Brookings Institution, and signed colossally-large arms-purchase agreements with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and other US suppliers in March 2014. The list goes on and on.

Direct from friendly, supportive Qatar: Proud, unrepentant
celebrity terrorist interviews happy (and free) fellow
convicted murderers of Jewish children [Screen capture from video]
A recent item in New Statesman ["How Qatar bought London"] quotes a British trade union source warning that "Britain has to ensure that it never falls out with Qatar, or one day we might wake up and find this Gulf state has us at its mercy".

But as we have learned to our sorrow, it's not only in Qatar that people look the other way when Islamist terrorists walk freely in their midst.

For the record, our daughter's murderer had no difficulty going to Qatar in 2013 from her home base in Jordan and basing herself and her team there to film an episode of her weekly television show - the one that exists to rejoice in the killing of Jewish children and the 'heroism' of her fellow terrorist savages. Click on this YouTube clip to watch as she giggles and beams her way through an hour of interviews with other freed Shalit Deal murderers living in Qatar with their new, young families.

As with so much else in the Qatar story, the evidence is plain for anyone who wants to see.

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