Documents uncovered by the Middle East Forum (MEF) reveal that the Qatari government is using “humanitarian” aid on a large scale to distribute nearly $1 billion to Islamist organizations around the world.
The dataset processed and translated by the Forum contains nearly 46,000 grants as well as hundreds of thousands of grants awarded by the Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association, also known as Eid Charity. The funds went to 288 Islamic organizations between 2004 and 2019, totaling more than $770 million.
In official documents of the Qatari regime, the Eid Charity is described as a “semi-governmental organization”.
Their radical origins were never in question. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called Eid Charity “probably the largest and most influential Salafist-controlled activist aid organization in the world.” Its founder, Abdulrahman al-Nuaimi, was designated a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGT) by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2013 because of his close ties to al-Qaeda.
Despite its history, Eid Charity enjoys a good reputation, especially among international organizations and NGOs. This latest discovery could change that.
In Yemen, Eid Charity appears to have donated nearly $20 million to al-Qaeda-linked charities such as Al Ihsan Charitable Society, Rahma Charity and Al Hikma Yemeni Charitable Society. Al Ihsan is led by Abdullah Mohammed al-Yazidi, who was a member of the Hadhrami Interior Council of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Rahma Charitable Foundation is an organization designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, which is referred to by the government as an “AQAP front organization.”
In the Palestinian territories, the Eid Charity distributed $3 million to the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which publicly supports the US-designated Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It donated $5 million to the Islamic Charity Society in Hebron, although it is described by German intelligence as “directly linked to Hamas.”
In Pakistan, 830 grants totaling nearly $11 million have been awarded by the Eid Charity to an organization that appears to match the name and locations of the Al-Furqan Foundation Welfare Trust, which the U.S. Treasury Department considers “an important leadership for the financial and material support of terrorist groups and their activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in some cases under the guise of humanitarian work”. The Ministry of Finance also notes that Al-Furqan “financially and otherwise supported terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.”
In other parts of the world, from Egypt to India, from East Africa to Indonesia, the beneficiaries of charity projects as part of the Sugar Festival often include supporters of the radical Salafists.
Even in the West, Islamists have benefited from Qatar’s generosity. In the UNITED KINGDOM, the Eid Charity distributed $2 million to the Al Muntada Al Islami Trust, a Salafist association linked to ISIS financier Nabil al-Awadi.
In France, it donated huge sums to leading Muslim Brotherhood institutions, underpinning the claims in the Qatar Papers, a 2019 investigative study by French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot.
In Sweden, the Eid Charity donated nearly $1 million to the Al-Rashideen Mosque, also known as the Gävle Mosque. In 2014, the mosque’s imam, Abu Raad, applauded ISIS for capturing the Iraqi city of Mosul and even called on his followers to support the terrorist organization.
And in the United States, the Eid Charity channeled just under $100,000 through Canada to the Colorado Muslim Community Center, an institution controlled by Salafist cleric Karim Abu Zaid, a blatant Apologist for the Taliban.
While there has been ample anecdotal evidence linking the Qatari regime to the funding of global Islamism in the past, these documents uncovered by the Middle East Forum are the most comprehensive evidence yet.
The database is huge, and there are still tens of thousands of documents to be checked. Yet even if this is only a small part of Qatar’s total spending on its Islamist partners around the world, this newly discovered information clearly shows that Qatar is at the forefront of a new global Sunni Islamist axis.