Qatar’s prime minister attended the wedding of the son of a man the country had added to its terrorism list last month alongside the Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal.
Photos of the wedding were published days ago in the Qatar newspaper Al Raya showing Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the prime minister and interior minister, fondly greeting Abdullah Al Nuaimi at the ceremony. In the background is Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi, the father, a former head of the Qatar Football Association who was designated by the US and UN for financing Al Qaeda in Iraq, who was smiling happily.
The wedding page photographs also show father and son posing with Mr Meshaal, who has been living in Qatar for more than a decade.
Qatar increasing pace of asset sales as Gulf boycott takes toll
Quartet says Qatar must meet demands to end boycott
UAE says Qatar’s terror list confirms its support of terrorism
The images provoked outrage across social media and among security experts, who called into question Qatar’s commitment to targeting terror suspects and those who finance extremism.
“Qatar’s policy on how to treat terrorists is astonishing. Here’s a picture posted an hour ago by a guest at the wedding of Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi’s son (father & son in the picture). Al Nuaimi was named on #Qatar’s recent terrorist list,” Prince Talal Mohammed Al Faisal wrote.
“It’s hard to know what’s worse: that Nuaymi was free to attend his son’s wedding weeks after being designated a terrorist by his even own govt [and] months after Qatar told NYT he was in jail, or that it seems the party was attended & blessed by a top religion anchor for state media,” wrote terror expert David Weinberg on Twitter.
As interior minister, Sheikh Abdullah was responsible for issuing the list of 19 Qataris and others who were designated as terrorists by the country for the first time. The March announcement was presented by Doha as major step by the country to meet its undertakings to the US Treasury when the US-GCC Terrorist Finance Targeting Centre (TFTC) was established last May.
According to analysis published by Mr Weinberg, there is a glaring omission of Al Qaeda and ISIS from the list. “Qatar is a founding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, and yet its new list of banned terrorist groups still does not include the Islamic State’s central branch in Syria and Iraq,” he wrote. “ Only the group’s branch in the Sinai Peninsula is proscribed by Qatar’s new list, a significant omission given that Islamic State branches and loyalists carried out attacks in over 20 countries in 2016 alone.
“Also excluded from the list is Muthanna al-Dhari, an Iraqi subject to a United Nations travel ban for allegedly funding IS’s forerunner, al-Qaeda in Iraq, to the tune of over a million dollars. Al-Dhari has been let into Qatar numerous times – including in the last year – and was hugged and kissed by Emir Tamim’s father in 2015.”
After Al Nuaimi was put on the US Treasury’s sanctions list on 2013, an activist group he founded in Geneva, protested the decision. According to its website, Al Karama rejects the designation. “Alkarama’s Executive Director Mourad Dhina commented on this situation in an article , “The Arab world needs bridge building, not terrorist listing”, arguing that the US decision was certainly not the way to go for advancing democracy and human rights in the region’,” it said.
AlKarama had its special consultative status to the UN’s Economic and Social Council ( ECOSOC) revoked last year in the wake of the controversy.
Read more: Qatar terror suspect finishes second in Doha triathlon