Three of Qatar's leading financial institutions are accused of secretly funnelling funds to terrorist groups responsible for the killings of US citizens, new court papers allege.
A lawsuit filed in New York this week by the family of Pinches Przewozman, an American who was killed in a rocket attack in Israel from the Gaza Strip last year, claims Qatar’s government and royal family spearheaded “a terrorism financing conspiracy”.
The US complaints allege payments under the guise of Qatari charitable donations have moved through the US banking system since 2014 into accounts maintained by Qatar National Bank and used by Hamas leaders and militants and their relatives.
In June, a similar lawsuit was lodged against Qatar in the US and last month eight Syrian refugees became the first of a further 330 to bring a case for damages in Britain's high court accusing Qatar of funding the terrorist group that tortured them.
The latest action alleges key institutions channelled millions of dollars to support US designated-terrorist groups Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
“To accomplish its goal of spreading acts of terrorism and violence in Israel while evading international sanctions, Qatar co-opted several institutions that it dominates and controls to funnel coveted US dollars to Hamas and PIJ under the false guise of charitable donations,” the papers state.
“Three of those institutions are defendants in this case – Qatar Charity, Masraf Al Rayan Bank and Qatar National Bank.
“Qatar Charity solicited donations around the world and then transferred those funds to its account at Masraf Al Rayan in Doha, Qatar. Masraf Al Rayan then utilised its 'correspondent' bank account located in New York to conduct transactions involving US dollars to transfer funds from Doha, through New York, to Qatar Charity’s accounts in the Palestinian Territories at either the Bank of Palestine or the Islamic Bank in Ramallah.
“Once Qatar Charity’s branches in the Palestinian Territories secured those funds, the branches distributed them to Hamas and PIJ, as well as supposed charities affiliated with those terrorist organisations. Hamas and PIJ then utilised those funds to finance terrorist activities in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, including the attack that killed Pinches Menachem Przewozman and injured his family members.”
It alleges Qatar National Bank held at least six accounts for the Qatar Charity, which is connected with the Muslim Brotherhood and is designated as a proscribed organisation in some countries for its links to terrorism.
“Qatar Charity has also acted as a financier and agency for terrorist organisations in Chechnya and Mali and funded Syria’s Ahfad Al Rasul Brigade,” the papers allege.
“In addition, Qatar Charity provided funding to, and partnered with, Islamic Relief Worldwide, which Israel banned in 2014 for funding Hamas.”
The triple threat damages
It alleges over a six-month period in 2015 that Qatar Charity used Masraf Al Rayan bank to transfer more than $28 million in supposed charitable donations from Qatar Charity in Doha to its two branches in the Palestinian Territories.
“Qatar Charity eventually transferred a substantial portion of those funds to Hamas, PIJ, and supposed charities controlled by those terrorist organisations,” it alleges.
“Despite Qatar Charity’s clear and substantial links to terrorist entities, Masraf Al Rayan completed [US dollar] transfers to Qatar Charity in the Palestinian Territories throughout the conspiracy.”
The British-registered, Qatari state-controlled bank Al Rayan, is being investigated over its money laundering controls in the UK.
"Masraf Al Rayan is under investigation in the UK for, among other things, knowingly providing financial services to Hamas and PIJ by utilising Qatar Charity to pass funds to those terrorist organisations," it states.
Suing under the US Anti-Terrorism Act allows victims to seek triple damages from private entities.
In October, former US hostage Matthew Schrier, who was kidnapped and tortured in Syria by terrorists for 211 days in 2012 while working as a photographer, lodged a case against Qatar under the same act.
He has filed a case against Qatar Islamic Bank alleging that Syrian Al Qaeda terrorist groups Jabhat Al Nusrah and Ahrar Al Sham “used an international network of donors and charities to fund” their activities.