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Iraq

In 2014, the United States imposed sanctions on two Jordanian nationals with Qatari ID cards, brothers Ashraf and Abdulmalik Abdulsalam, for funding al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).111 Abdulamalik was also known as Umar al-Qatari, or “the Wolf of al-Qaeda.”112 He was captured by Lebanese authorities carrying tens of thousands of dollars intended for the terrorist group.113 According to a local press report, his work for al-Qaeda also allegedly included providing 200,000 Qatari riyals and 18,000 euros to contacts in Antakya, Turkey, for transfer to Syria, along with night-vision goggles, communications equipment, weapons, and ammunition. The U.S. government subsequently concurred that he “gave thousands of dollars and material support to a Syria-based al-Qaida associate intended for … operatives” of Jabhat al-Nusra,114 also known as al-Nusra Front – a UN-designated terrorist group that then served as al-Qaeda’s local branch in Syria.115

Abdulmalik Abdulsalam allegedly transferred $4 million through a Jordanian bank to his father, a jihadist leader also known as Abu Abdulaziz al-Qatari.116 The group Abu Abdulaziz founded, Jund al-Aqsa, was sanctioned by the United States and United Kingdom as an al-Qaeda splinter group.117 According to his supporters, Abu Abdulaziz is a former leader of AQI who left the fight “to work from Qatar in supporting the mujahideen materially and logistically.”118

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There is also the case of Abdulrahman al-Nu’aymi. In 2013, the United States sanctioned Nu’aymi, a Qatari national, accusing him of providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda over more than a decade – including, at one point, more than two million dollars a month to AQI.119 The United Nations also sanctioned Nu’aymi for his ties to al-Qaeda.120 At the time of Nu’aymi’s U.S. designation, the press first made contact with him not in Doha but in Istanbul, although he quickly returned to Qatar, where he convened a press conference.121

Qatar briefly arrested Nu’aymi in July 2017 following the onset of the Saudi-led blockade, before releasing him in February 2018.122 He remains free. In April 2018, Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani attended the wedding of Nu’aymi’s son, where the prime minister posed for a picture with the terror financier.123 In May 2019, Qatar’s highest court overturned Nu’aymi’s inclusion on Qatar’s terrorism list.124

Nu’aymi also chaired the Global Anti-Aggression Coalition, a group that held conferences on Turkish soil and voiced support for terrorists in places such as Gaza and Iraq.125 He was also a founding member of Eid Charity, a Qatari charity that reportedly works with figures the Somali government believes are associated with al-Shabaab.126

Institutions and officials of the Qatari and Turkish governments have also regularly hosted the late Harith al-Dhari and his son Muthanna al-Dhari, both of whom the United States and United Nations designated for funding AQI.127

Harith al-Dhari, leader of the extremist Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, was a prominent speaker at events hosted by the Global Anti-Aggression Coalition, the Islamist group chaired by Nu’aymi. The Iraqi government in 2006 issued an arrest warrant for Harith.128 Yet he was often hosted in Qatar and met Qatar’s then Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In 2008, Emir Hamad met with Harith just a month after Washington designated the latter as a sponsor of AQI.129 Qatar’s rulers even welcomed Harith as an honored guest when Emir Hamad inaugurated the state’s new Grand Mosque in 2011.130

Harith al-Dhari lived in exile in Jordan but ultimately died in Turkey in 2015.131 After his death, now-former Emir Hamad, who had ceded power to his son in 2013, visited Jordan to relay his condolences and was videotaped exchanging hugs and kisses with Muthanna al-Dhari.132

Muthanna al-Dhari has been under U.S. sanctions since 2010 for allegedly providing more than $1 million to AQI.133 Qatar, however, did not designate him as part of the terrorism list it published in 2018.134 Though Muthanna is under a UN travel ban, Qatar has repeatedly let him into the country, including for in-studio appearances on Al-Jazeera to rail against the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.135 In May 2017, the president of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Mehmet Gormez, met with Muthanna in Ankara. Gormez said he knew him intimately and expressed appreciation for his work in Iraq.136

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