British terror police drop investigation into alleged intimidation by Qatar in Syrian refugee court case

Syrians claim they suffered 'severe physical and psychiatric' trauma at the hands of Al Qaeda affiliate

Pedestrians pass a payroll card center operated by Doha Bank QSC in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Qatar Telecom QSC, the country's biggest company by revenue, is seeking a syndicated loan for about $1 billion to refinance existing debt, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. Photographer: Gabriela Maj/Bloomberg
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British counterterrorism officers have dropped an investigation into allegations of threats and intimidation against Syrian refugees who accused Qatar of financing terrorism.

Four Syrians lodged a case for damages at London's High Court against Qatar's Doha Bank and businessmen brothers Moutaz and Ramez Al Khayyat.

It is alleged the brothers used Doha Bank accounts to channel money to the Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate.

The Syrians said they suffered “severe physical and psychiatric injuries” at the hands of the terrorist group.

Last year, a report was made to Scotland Yard accusing Qatar of perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation related to funding terrorism.

The court previously heard that people connected with the case had their cars bugged, were threatened in their homes and were offered bribes to reveal the names of the claimants who were granted anonymity by the court.

Eight refugees brought the case but four withdrew last year claiming they were in “fear of their lives”.

Scotland Yard confirmed it received reports of intimidation last November but is not continuing the case.

"On 9 November, 2020, we received allegations relating to terrorism funding, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation," a Metropolitan Police representative told The National.

"A scoping exercise into the allegations was carried out by officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, the result of which is that the Met will not be instigating an investigation into these allegations at this time.

“Should any further information come to light in relation to the allegations, then this will be considered and reviewed as to whether any further scoping of these allegations would be required.”

Ben Emmerson, QC for the claimants, told the court on Monday the police had opened a report into the threats made to the claimants, but a full investigation would not be carried out.

He said the Met Police had recorded a crime report based on evidence “to support the allegation of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice".

But counterterrorism officers would not be carrying out "a full investigation" because it would "represent a disproportionate and unreasonable use of finite police resources" as some of the alleged offences were committed overseas and some of the witnesses live in the Netherlands, he said.

A police source told The National the force had been in contact with the claimant's legal team and their response had been referenced in court.

On Monday, Doha Bank asked the court to dismiss some of the allegations against the state, including intimidation and attempted bribing of witnesses, prior to a hearing in October to determine whether the case should be heard in the UK or in Qatar.

Mr Justice Chamberlain told the bank he would consider their request and make a decision at a later date.

A spokesman for the Al Khayyat brothers told The National that they deny the "bizarre and baseless allegations".