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The cases of Libya and Somalia are not anomalies. Qatar and Turkey have both inserted themselves into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as patrons of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, a splinter faction of the Brotherhood. For Turkey and Qatar, two patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood and self-styled champions of Islamist causes, support for Hamas comes naturally. In fact, Qatar has directly funded Hamas for years, having given the group more than $1.1 billion between 2012 and 2018.79 Qatar’s funding continues to this day, with Doha budgeting around $330 million in aid payments since 2018 to families living in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Qatar insists that none of its largesse goes to Hamas directly.80

Turkey and Qatar have both welcomed Hamas members on their soil.81 In Turkey’s case, this practice stretches back at least a decade. While living in Turkey, Saleh al-Arouri, commander of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, reportedly planned the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014.82 Arouri had initially lived in Syria after Israel released him from prison in 2010, but he traveled to Turkey when Hamas publicly opposed Syria’s slaughter of Sunnis in the civil war.83 After he had operated out of Turkey for five years, American and Israeli pressure on Ankara forced him to relocate to Qatar.84 Arouri reportedly moved to Lebanon two years later, after the onset of the 2017 blockade, due to pressure by the other Gulf states.

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During the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict, Qatar and Turkey negotiated on behalf of Hamas, pushing for a one-sided ceasefire that would have benefitted Hamas by relaxing Israel’s blockade of Gaza and connecting Hamas to the global economy, at the cost of ignoring Israel’s legitimate security concerns.85 They almost got what they wanted, helping to draft a ceasefire plan presented to Israel by then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry’s plan acknowledged Hamas’ position in Gaza, pledged billions of dollars to the group, and made no demands on Hamas to dismantle its rockets, heavy weapons, or tunnels.86

GCC pressure has since influenced other cases of Qatar sheltering Hamas figures. At the end of 2014, pressure from the GCC forced Qatar to take a harder line against Hamas for several weeks, before the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah derailed that effort.87 During that brief interval, the chief of Hamas’s Politburo, Khaled Meshal, who had taken up residence in Doha after Hamas exited Damascus in 2012, was briefly forced to relocate, making his way to Turkey instead.88 But Meshal returned to Doha in 2015 and was spotted next to radical preacher Yousef al-Qaradawi at prayers in September 2017.89 Meshal is under U.S. sanctions for financing terrorism as well as for “supervising assassination operations, bombings, and the killing of Israeli settlers.”90

Qatar also briefly detained two Hamas officials in response to GCC pressure.91 But soon after, reports indicated that one of the two men, Zahir Jabareen, a senior official with financial as well as military duties, relocated from Qatar to Turkey.92 News reports suggest Jabareen assumed the role of Arouri’s Istanbul-based deputy, overseeing a bureau that “serves as the military wing’s recruiting station for Palestinian students, where they receive training in terrorist activity” less than half an hour outside the city.93

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, which designated Jabareen along with several other Turkey-based Hamas supporters in September 2019, Jabareen headed Hamas’ “Finance Office” and created a “financial network in Turkey” that enables Hamas to “raise, invest, and launder money prior to transferring it to Gaza and the West Bank.”94 Jabareen – who, according to Treasury, has a Qatari passport – is also the main contact between Hamas and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.95

The sanctions Treasury announced in September also targeted Redin Exchange, a Turkey-based company identified as a “key part of the infrastructure used to transfer money to Hamas.”96 Since 2017, Redin has transferred millions to Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Treasury also designated the company’s CEO and deputy CEO, both Iraqi nationals based in Istanbul. Redin’s deputy CEO, Ismael Tash, has maintained contact since 2017 with a money-transfer channel overseen by Treasury-designated Hamas financier Muhammad Sarur.97

Mahir Salah, a top Hamas official under U.S. sanctions for channeling tens of millions of dollars for Iran, reportedly controlled Hamas’s finances throughout the Gulf and has continued to visit Turkey.98 Maher Ubeid, a Hamas politburo member reportedly responsible for laundering tens of millions of dollars through Turkey, has also been spotted in Doha.99

Both Qatar and Turkey were embroiled in a terror finance scandal involving the Union of the Good, a charitable network that the U.S. government sanctioned in 2008 as a fundraising front for Hamas.100 Members of the network included Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) and three Qatari charities.101

The Union’s chair is Yousef al-Qaradawi, an exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cleric who enjoys safe haven in Qatar and serves as the spiritual guide of Hamas. On a visit to Gaza in 2013, Qaradawi stated, “[W]e should seek to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, inch by inch,” a position consistent with Hamas’ denial of Israel’s right to exist. Hamas’s then Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh greeted the aging cleric, who also said, “[O]ur wish should be that we carry out Jihad to the death,” calling upon Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims to unite and overthrow Israel.102

Qaradawi became a global personality by hosting religious programming on Al-Jazeera for many years. On his show, Qaradawi incited violence against Americans, arguing at the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003 that “fighting American civilians in Iraq is a duty for all Muslims.”103 He also sanctioned suicide bombings against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.104 Qatar has shielded its guest from Egyptian efforts to try him for alleged crimes, including Cairo’s issuance of an Interpol Red Notice for Qaradawi on charges of “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.”105

Qaradawi reportedly bragged that the only reason he was not himself sanctioned by the United States was his political backing from Qatar’s emir at the time.106 In 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department urged Qatar’s leadership to ensure Qaradawi was removed from the sharia supervisory board of Qatar Islamic Bank, one of Qatar’s most important banks, arguing that his “public support for Hamas … poses a risk both to the bank and to the Qatari financial sector as a whole.”107 Qaradawi is now under sanctions by Qatar’s Gulf rivals.108

Though residing in Doha, Qaradawi has hosted several events in Turkey over the years through another organization he heads, the International Union for Muslim Scholars. When Erdogan criticized the aforementioned Interpol notice calling for Qaradawi’s arrest, Qaradawi returned the favor by headlining a three-day “Thanks Turkey” festival held by his organization in Istanbul, at which he called Erdogan “the Sultan” and a defender of Islam and the Quran.109 At that event, Qaradawi handed an award to Turkey’s deputy prime minister to pass on to Erdogan, who had welcomed him for a meeting earlier in the week.110

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