The Shocking Trigger Behind Today's Gulf Scandal: Qatar Paid Al-Qaeda, Iran $1BN In Hostage Deal

Tyler Durden's picture

The FT has unveiled what its believes is the key trigger behind the shocking overnight collapse in diplomatic relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. According to the FT, the catalyst that forced the Saudis and their allies to unveil the cut in diplomatic and economic ties, is that Qatar allegedly paid up to $1 billion to Iran and al-Qaeda affiliates "to release members of the Gulf state’s royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq while on a hunting trip, according to people involved in the hostage deal"; the secret deal was allegedly one of the triggers behind Gulf states’ dramatic decision to cut ties with Doha.

The details of the payoff: "around $700m was paid both to Iranian figures and the regional Shia militias they support, according to regional government officials. They added that $200m to $300m went to Islamist groups in Syria, most of that to Tahrir al-Sham, a group with links to al-Qaeda."

A regional Arab official said the total paid to jihadi groups was closer to $300m. “So, if you add that up to the other $700m they paid to Iran and its proxies, that means Qatar actually spent about a billion dollars on this crazy deal,” he said.

* * *

The Iraqi Shia militia commanders in Iraq, all from hardline Iranian-backed groups, said that, to their knowledge, Iran had obtained around $400m after giving them a payment they would not disclose. They agreed to share some details because they were unhappy about their share of the payment.


“They [the Iranians] took the lion’s share,” said a member of one of the Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq. “That’s caused some of us to be frustrated, because that was not the deal.”

The "ransom payments are the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said one Gulf observer.

Not to be confused with the Obama administration secretly airlifting crates full of $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran to release five US hostages held by Iran, the FT writes that commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region told the Financial Times that "Doha spent the money in a transaction that secured the release of 26 members of a Qatari hunting party in southern Iraq and about 50 militants captured by jihadis in Syria."

By their telling, Qatar paid off two of the most frequently blacklisted forces of the Middle East in one fell swoop: an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria and Iranian security officials.

If nothing else, at least Qatar got a better bang for the physical buck, at $38 million per hostage, compared to the $340 million the Obama administration paid for the five US hostages released by Tehran.

While there is no official evidence, the FT adds that the deal, which was concluded in April, heightened concerns among Qatar’s neighbours about the small gas-rich state’s role in a region plagued by conflict and bitter rivalries, which however is at least somewhat confusing: after all it was well-known since the Podesta emails that even the US state department had confirmed that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar were the two primary funders of the Islamic State and various Jihidaist groups in the region. Recall from our October 2016 post:

In a leaked email sent on August 17, 2014 by Hillary Clinton to her current campaign manager, John Podesta, who back then was counselor to Barack Obama, she admitted that Qatar and Saudi Arabia "are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region."


The email, which was sent just days after the US launched it "temporary" air campaign in Syria, which has now extended over two years, represents an eight-point plan laying out ideas how to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Clinton’s email said that the United States should engage in "military operations against these very irregular but determined forces" by "making proper use of clandestine/special operations resources, in coordination with airpower, and established local allies" such as Kurdish forces.


Having confirmed the role of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hillary then states that "we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia" and recommends to step up US commitment to the Kurdish Regional Government or KRG. "The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure.  By the same token, the threat of similar, realistic U.S. operations will serve to assist moderate forces in Libya, Lebanon, and even Jordan, where insurgents are increasingly fascinated by the ISIL success in Iraq."

In any case, last year's revalation appears to have been "news" to Saudi Arabia - the other named source of funding to ISIS, and on Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain took the extraordinary step of cutting off diplomatic ties and transport links to Qatar, alleging the country fuels extremism and terrorism.“

The FT further notes that "Doha denies it backs terrorist groups and dismissed the blockade by its neighbours as “founded on allegations that have no basis in fact”. It said it could not immediately respond to a request for comment on the hostage deal. But a person close to the Qatari government acknowledged that “payments” were made. The person was unaware of the amounts or where the money went."

Doha has a history of reaching out to all kinds of controversial groups, from rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in Gaza. Qatar touts itself as a neutral player that can act as an intermediary in regional conflicts. But its critics, notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, allege it also uses such interventions to play both sides and fund radical Islamist groups, most recently in Libya and Syria. And to Doha’s critics, the hostage deal was further evidence of that role.

In an amusing twist, one FT source - a Syrian opposition figure who has worked with an al-Qaeda mediator on hostage swaps in Syria. - adds that "if you want to know how Qatar funds jihadis, look no further than the hostage deal.... And this isn’t the first — it is one of a series since the beginning of the war."

Those who spoke to the FT said the deal highlighted how Qatar has allegedly used hostage payments to bankroll jihadis in Syria. But to its Gulf neighbours, the biggest issue is likely to be the fact that Doha could have paid off their main regional rival, Iran, which they accuse of fuelling conflicts in the Arab world.


This particular saga began when an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia, known as Kata’eb Hizbollah, kidnapped the Qataris in December 2015. Three Iraqi militia leaders say the hostages were held in Iran.


Kata’eb Hizbollah is an Iraqi group but it is seen as having links with Iran’s main regional proxy, Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group. The latter is helping Iran back Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in his country’s six-year conflict.

It gets better: the hostage transaction was also linked to a separate agreement, signed in March 2017, to facilitate the evacuation of four mutually besieged towns in Syria — two surrounded by jihadi forces and two besieged by Shia militias — according to the FT's sources: "Syrian rebels and diplomats." One western diplomat said the arrangement provided Qatar the “cover” to finance the hostage deal.

“Iran and Qatar had long been looking for a cover to do this [hostage] deal, and they finally found it,” he said.

According to two opposition figures with close contact with the groups paid, Qatar used the evacuation arrangement to pay $120-$140m to Tahrir al-Sham. Another $80m, they said, went to the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham. “The Qataris pay anyone and everyone, to what end? They have only brought about our ruin,” said a Syrian rebel commander, who gave details about the payments but asked not to be identified.

* * *

Going back to our analogy of Obama dumping crates of cash - anywhere between $400 million and $1.7 billion - in Iran, it appears this time was not that different:

Another confusing chapter of the deal is that Haidar al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister, said in April his government had seized hundreds of millions of dollars, which Iraqi officials said arrived on Qatari planes “illegally”. It is not clear if this is money is part of the sums mentioned above, or an additional amount.

The punchline: “The money all came in suitcases, can you imagine this?” said one senior official.

And while Qatar has now been scapegoated for funding Al-Qaeda and ISIS, something most have known for years, a question emerges: does this mean that Saudi Arabia - another chronic supporter of terrorism in the region and around the globe - is now off the hook. That would be problematic in light of Saudi Arabia's own on the record admission that it itself created Daesh, or ISIS, which however it allegedly did only in response to Obama's disastrous policy in the region. From the Financial Times:

After the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to a lightning Isis offensive in 2014, even the late Prince Saud al-Faisal, the respected Saudi foreign minister, remonstrated with John Kerry, US secretary of state, thatDaesh [Isis] is our [Sunni] response to your support for the Da’wa” — the Tehran-aligned Shia Islamist ruling party of Iraq.

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emersonreturn's picture

what were they hunting...after years of shock n awe there cannot be many animals (non human) left?

Trial and Error's picture

I'm having Ned Beatty flashbacks.

chunga's picture

Trump tweet #1 - Bring me John Podesta today without fail.

Trump tweet #2 - Bring me Seth Rich laptop today without fail.

Trump tweet #3 - Bring me Anthony Weiner laptop today without fail.

Trump tweet #4 - If this does not happen, Jeff Sessions clean out your desk.

el buitre's picture

Trump tweet #5 - Bring me Anthony's weiner without fail.

chunga's picture

Trump tweet #6 - Bring me Wasserman Schultz without fail.

El Oregonian's picture

Ahhh, it was a profit deal.... Where's the Clinton Foundation? Those rats can't be far behind.

Giant Meteor's picture

I do not disagree. But I recognize the "Clintons" were, are, deep state syncophants, who obviously had the green light, to do exactly as they wished. And ths club is not limited to them exclusively in this way ...

It's a big club ..

And most of us, near as I can figure, are not in it. We are not in the big club ..

Most of us, are the one's merely getting clubbed, sorta like baby seals ...

edit; shout out to Carlin's material used in the making of this post ..


Raging Debate's picture

Carlin was right, its a club but it is small in terms of people numbers. In terms of assets and control that is big. Unsustainable. Always was, always will be


The Wizard's picture

Complete bullshit to throw off the scent ...

It shows you how bright these manipulators are with their blame game. C'mon guys, you can come up with something better than this.

I smell a currency war game at the foundation of the realignment of these countries.

PrayingMantis's picture


... and Qatar is not going down without incriminating other sandbaggers ... >>> ... the Qatari state-run media outlet ... "Al Jazeera Reports Leaked Emails Showing Relationship Between UAE And Israeli-linked Think Tanks" ...


... >>> ... "“The latest email leaks from the Hotmail account of the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, could threaten Emirati diplomacy and strain regional relations, analysts say.

“If the leaked emails are proved to be genuine, they could become a source of stress for the UAE,” Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center Washington DC, told Al Jazeera.

On Saturday, hackers released what they claimed was the first in a series of emails taken from the inbox of Otaiba. The leaks have revealed a strong relationship between the UAEand think-tanks closely allied to Israel, along with Emirati efforts to tarnish the images of Qatar and Kuwait; Emirati involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey; and the UAE’s fight against Islamist movements, particularly Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, legal expert Mahmoud Refaat said the leaked emails serve as living proof of what he described as “the Emirates’ heinous crimes” in the region.

“The UAE has destroyed entire populations, including the Libyan and the Yemeni people, under the banner of fighting the Muslim Brotherhood,” Refaat said.

Some of the leaked emails include a detailed agenda for a meeting scheduled later this month between officials from the UAE government and representatives of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a pro-Israel think-tank. The agenda includes a joint assessment of the changes that have taken place in Saudi Arabia, which proposes a plan to support Saudi stability and its new policy directions.

The agenda also includes a review of internal Saudi policies, domestic challenges faced by the Saudi leadership, foreign policy and the kingdom’s role in stripping legitimacy from worldwide “jihad”,” Al Jazeera’s article reads.   ... " ...

... full article here >>> ...


Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Qatar playing both sides?  Where did they learn that?  Surely not from Israel, Saudi Arabia, and USUK.

What I like is how the two payments are conflated.  Iran is paid money for allegedly kidnapping the Qatari 'Royal' family, but that doesn't sound sinister, so how about another payment is made to terrorist groups and then we say how the payments, because they were made by the same country (!) are related!

No word yet if the newly formed (and unannounced thus far) Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, Zaire, France, UK, and United States anti-terror alliance (PLEEZFUKUS for short) has Islamic extremists trembling in their black-ops funded boots.

earleflorida's picture

In 1999 bill clinton had a last chance to lay OBL to rest... but got shit advise from his CT Czar Richard Clarke whom had a very lucrative, and special relationship with the UAE Royals,...--- tells WJC to cancel missile strike on OBL [and], the Royal's Hunting Trip. (other Royal's from neighboring countries often went to Afgahnistan to gamble on the prized birds preditor skills

what followed was a $8 Bln. military contract orchestrated by Clarke's connections!

now remember this... the head of the snake was in plain site for 16 hrs... or moar! (with missile on submarines on the coast locked and loaded)

OBL survived and the rest is history, and at the tyme SA was matching USSA funding for al qaeda and the taliban/mujahideen--- and now its the Qataris head on the chopping block when 'Bandar`Bush' was threatening both the UK (2005 7/7 incident Blair) and USSA (baby Bush?)with blackmail?!?

yes, 18 years ago and still a mystery shell game...[?]

here's more...    on how our profiteering MIC etal., sells the proletariet/ peasant [drone] army, airforce and navy down the drain! 

opport.knocks's picture

Your "analysis" falls short starting with your initial assumption. OBL had nothing to do with 911, he was the "patsy" just like Lee Harvey Oswald. OBL was also dead long before the Omaba's fake operation to kill him. Please try harder if you wish to pass to the next level.

earleflorida's picture

July 7, 2005 'London Bombing' referred to as '7/7' --- terrorist attack!

Oct. 12, 2000 'USS Cole Bombing' and the Yemeni Hub

The '911' Timeline?    Note: just read the data and the fingerprints are all over saudi money given to OBL's al`qaeda.

Note2: the saudis banned OBl from the kingdom but never stopped funding him--- and Mullah Omar's heroin trade giving OBL hundreds of millions [ easy] free money being the middle-man drug trade 'Don' with the chechen mafia, incl., safe passage and travel out of afghanistan.  

quadraspleen's picture

It's so convenient at this exact moment that it just has to be bullshit. Iran is not and does not support Sunni Islamist groups. Even basic scholars of the ME know this..I suppose black is white these days, so trump will turn out to be a secret Bernie supporter, Hilary will turn out to be a, wait...

weburke's picture

Ft is providing cover. Centcom does not want its home to be part of the coming war.

Ntoxic8ingWave's picture

The real story is that the mayor pulled the permit for the free speech rally... Talk about 1st ammendment violations...

caconhma's picture

 "to release members of the Gulf state’s royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq while on a hunting trip"

How stupid  can one be to belive to this bogus story?

Amun's picture

ISIS/ISIL is fully based on wahhabism

 Saudi Arabia - is the original cradle of wahhabism,

Wahhabi House of Saud was the only Arab tribe to accept the foundation of the state of Isarel

in return British sionist government gave then the entire Arab Peninsula

Osab bin Laden was a Saudi Prince and a Wahhabi

Does it all make sense now?




Giant Meteor's picture

Of course it makes sense ..

Seems like a lot of shit to sift through, but we back the state sponsors of terrorism, by far, the most of it, in the petro dollar arrangement that is hitting the skids ..

So what, we are expecting truth to be told by those who facilitate the arrangement ..

They're just gonna come out and say, yeah it was US all along with a few co-conspirators ..

US, Israel, the Sauds ...

I'd start there first ..

Sure, lot's of folks have sinned, have blood on their hands, I'd go after the largest culprits to unwind ..

Is that gonna happen? Not a chance in hell , and it is going to be hell, as far as one can imagine ..

This shit show is just getting warmed up ...

shovelhead's picture


That fucking whole place will never make sense because they switch sides faster than you can untangle the yarn.

Backstabbing is the ME's National sport.

If you have 3 Arabs, you'll have 5 separate plots going on.

Giant Meteor's picture

So here is an idea ..

Why don't we just wade right in up to our eyeballs, and see what WE can do to make things even worse ! ?

What the fuck, the US has lied to it's people into these "conflicts without end" it's alphabet soup agencies have propped up, taken out, stirred all manner of shit, sacrificing AMERICAN lives in these misadventures and for WHAT ?

Yes, I know, I know, the failing petro dollar ..

It seems other's may have their OWN idea's eh ?

WhackoWarner's picture


usa, Britain, Fance etc.  are the cause.


meddling, power idiotic fools.  And it comes down to.......I have the money...the military and presitge.


"So what are you inconventiently doing by sitting on my oil and other wealth?"  IN OTHER WORDS  "hOW DARE YOU THWART MY PLAN?"  and I intend to own the world and all the resources. 


Anyone here notice?  All this crap about stuff? AT the same time the world is being converted into a 5G spying network...with Smart Grids?    Same time corporations are buyig rights to fresh water everywhere.  And it is everywhere.  So final problem is how do you monetize air?

Everyone just peachy on having a spy device on their privater home yet?   Of course they are.  Does not run on Bloomberg and all is OK.  AND all science is never given airplay.  Cancer, birth defects etc. etc. etc......but hey honey give me "A SMART METER".  World wide spy devices have been installed on most homes.

Plan is reaching fruition.


World is full of idiots. Give me a Smart meter that spies on me 24/7, And as a bonus will catch fire.

Zigbee saw this decades ago.  Hence the smart meter label of Zigbee chip.


Sorry but you all deserve what you have bargained for. 

Mr 9x19's picture

we don't have to give a sense to all this,  just put all muslims against a wall and shoot.

Mr 9x19's picture

4 sand niggers did't like my comment, still good to know they are some who know reading and try to be informed in the reel world of non fucking hallah_my_ass_lick_my ballz

LiteBeeer's picture

ISLAM is the PROBLEM. Quran commands killing.

Krungle's picture

All the Abrahamic religions do and all have acted on genocidal impulses. This is like blaming Protestants for the Catholic Churches genocide and pedophilia spree, or confusing the merely annoying Reform Jews with the Jewish supremacist Lubavitchers. Not everything in the world is all or nothing. Christians existed peacefully with Muslims in much of the ME for a long time. Colonial powers get involved and pit everyone against one another and you get this powder keg. What is left of Christiandom has become intellectually lazy and dishonest blaming ALL their woes on Jews or Muslims (and ALL Jews and Muslims).

tmosley's picture

You confuse words with actions. They have a book that commands them to kill and instill terror, and they kill and instill terror.

Islam must be eliminated by any means neccessary. It is a deadly memetic virus. It isn't going to stop by treating them nice, nor ignoring them, nor by only fighting those who have already taken up arms. New ones will self radicalize even if every member of every terrorist organization were to fall dead at once.

besnook's picture

isis is fully based on the petrodollar and eretz israel. they are simple useful idiots.

Giant Meteor's picture

Correct, but it's much better to talk of lining Muslims against the wall, kill them all, make the entire region glass etc ..

Fucking misdirection and bullshit ..

Now folks get a more clear understanding of Crazy Joe's people should be prepared to fight 100 year wars etc ...

And old crazy Joe should be taken serious on this . as that appears to be the fucking plan too ..

There was a solution .. stop fucking creating terrorists and after you've created,  claiming American lives have to be wasted in fighting the the very same terrorists, or some other version 2.0. Stop the fucking finger pointing, scape goating, blame gaming, while stirring up all manner of corrupt and devious shit while supporting it with American "dollars" ,  direct military involvement  and assorted war's proxies ... a bit naive I know, but still, at least consider ..

The fact that the Saudi's show up here, with all their fucking opulence, bling, and blood money, and are supported in this creating rabid terrorism worldwide, supported in every way by the US government, who clearly gives not TWO FUCKS about any "human rights violations" should tell one all they need to know really. That and of course doing Isreal bidding, the triumvirate. Yeah, some folks need to be lined up against the wall and shot alright ... for lying year after year, wasting blood, lives, and treasure while letting it's own nation collapse under the WEIGHT of said lies and waste ...

Truth and reconciliation? I'm all for it ...

When does THAT get started ...

One cannot criticize the FED, central banks, FIAT, DEBT, government malfeasance, lies, and corruption, that makes all this shit possible, without connecting the fucking dots ..





AVmaster's picture

Should've asked for gold. 


That would've REALLY ruffled some feathers =P

Amun's picture

Everyone knows House of Saud = Israel

The real question here is what did Qatar do to piss off Isarael




Herd Redirection Committee's picture

They've probably lost their nerve in the whole Syria invasion/conquest gas pipeline deal, so Eretz Israel decided they need to do what is best for 'Qatar' by deciding what is best for Qatar.  Regime change, baby! 

Giant Meteor's picture

Supply lines are breaking down as we speak, trucks lined up at the border, ..

Yes, this is an end run, ..

Fucking Kidnapper's Ransom, 

Do Tell ...

Mr 9x19's picture

it is all about ressources...


gas pipeline, israel already on the golan top, they want deeper acces to get the ressource... why the fuck you think they push to get a front sea.

direct selling to europ...


Giant Meteor's picture

It sure the fuck ain't about no ransom payment, unless of of course one considers the entire world is held hostage to this shit .

So in a sense, I guess it really is about ransom payment ..

Yog Soggoth's picture

If you look at the various maps of the Leviathan gas field you will see some peculiarities. It is always cut off at the north end of Gaza in a straight line. Nothing to see there. Cyprus and Lebanon are just as worthy of the share in the field by proximity. Another interesting aspect is that if these deposits are connected subterraneously then they could also be taking gas from closer to Egypt and others. Egypt could be a player if they did the exloratory RD, as they do not posess the large crude deposits of their nieghbors.

Giant Meteor's picture

Al Jazeera (Arabic: ???????‎‎ al-?az?rah IPA: [æl d?æ?zi?r?], literally "The Island", though referring to the Arabian Peninsula in context[2]), also known as JSC (Jazeera Satellite Channel), is a Doha-based state-funded broadcaster owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is partly funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar

A bit of truthiness going on over there ..

That cannot be accepted ...

Will not be allowed ...

Fuck, you got Theresa May sayin ..

Theresa May Calls For Clamp Down On Internet Freedom ... Theresa May is urging G7 Leaders to tackle Online extremism

Extremisim is going to be defined as ANYONE not aligning themselves with the chosen narrative ..

Hell, I'm in violation right now just writing this ...

Endgame Napoleon's picture

The Iranians have made an evil industry out of taking hostages. To resolve the Carter Era hostage crisis, American banks had to unfreeze $7.9 billion in Iranian assets, paying them in gold. The crisis was resolved, in part, because of the need they had for U.S.-made armament to fight Iraq. Sad.

Perhaps, American businesspeople could avoid future hostage issues by taking an interest in their own country and investing in businesses here. We can't have that, now can we? That would be akin to expecting a momma to raise her own children, possibly going down a house size to do it, and letting an underemployed person without a spousal income take that job. She could then take a real interest in her children, rather than playing show-off mommy during work hours via the underwriting division's Baby Mommy Look Alike Bulletin Board Decorating Contest. She could actually be at home, doing the hard work to raise her own children, instead of leaving that to $9/hr daycare workers or grandma and then asking for even more excused time off from work for kids.

King of Ruperts Land's picture

High quality North Korean printed $US 100s?

WhackoWarner's picture

My reaction?  So what?   It is all just a floor show.  So friggin what?  Fred Astaire and Ginger of fake friggin staged news lies.

Dynasties are arguing and covert ops are arguing.  So friggin what?  Think nobody knew this?  Think this is not friggin lies? 



Central bankers at 50 paces at dawn.  Televised event. 

I simply wonder what we are being set up for???

JRobby's picture

Various, just like the pallets Obama (Manchurian Kenyan) sent over.

Funding terror is a big business!

divingengineer's picture

My first question: What the hell were they hunting in Iraq?


dogismycopilot's picture

The rumor is that the 2015 hunting party was meeting members of AQ in Iraq to give them money. The Qataris were then clipped by a PMU unit in the area. 

Hunting trips like these normally go to Pakistan, Uzbekistan or even Kyrgystan as they can go to the whore houses afterwards. I have never bought the story they were on a hunting trip in Anbar province. 


Koba the Dread's picture

And the question that comes to my mind is "What does it matter what currency was used?".

junction's picture

Sening money in suitcases to Iran is bad, air freighting in pallet loads of cash to Iran, as Obama did, is good.

Newbie lurker's picture

I fail to see the problem here..... Didn't we pay Iran 1.4 Billion for some hostages? ....ironic smirk...