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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ThirdWorldNut's picture

The problem is Qataris got a nifty little $400mn discount. Americans dont know how to haggle.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

Once hostages are taken, what do you expect them to
do? Why are all these people with money to burn trundling around the globe to dangerous spots, while, in many cases, a ton of their countrymen are underemployed? If they can't create jobs in their own countries with all that money, why can't they, at least, do their extensive babyvacationing mostly in their own countries, creating some jobs?

War Machine's picture

this latest tale is *complete* nonsense.

From a disinfo perspective apart partly, it seems, to conflate Iran with Al Qaeda. Of course, and as most here appreciate, the US, Saudis and Israelis along with the Turks have provided the money and materiel for AQ and 'ISIS'

I recommend the following article, btw:

Syria has shot down at least 1 Israeli jet which was bombing in support of an isis advance.

Israel has coordinated air strikes with ISIS On numerous occasions, and this is essentially an open secret.

The unraveling here was likely ALWAYS going to happen.

Qatar was never going to be allowed to send gas to Europe to compete with the Saudis or Israel's golan and leviathan gas - amazing how few of you seem to understand that a Qatar pipeline would greatly diminish the value of Israel's oil/gas development.

You also dont spend tens of billions and 6/7/8 years losing money to try to build and maintain pipeline in a lawless, jihadi lousy desert.

It was always bullshit.

They wanted to stop the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline though... that's for sure.

As MoA notes, this is about Iran, which for Vichy DC is mostly about Likud Israel taking Lebanon and expelling the Pals to Jordan.

I know this because its my job to know this.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Expand Eretz Israel, destabilize all neighboring (non-puppet) states, gnaw away at Russia by isolating it (this is what Iran is all about), increase influence and control in central Asia/world pivot/continue 'The Great Game'. 

From (the north coast of) Iran you can sail up the Caspian, and sail up the Volga all the way to Moscow. Over half of Russia's population is located in the Volga basin.

scraping_by's picture

Nice spot on that headline connecting Saudi instrument AQ and Iran. A combination that's not just weird, it's dumb. But it will give CNN something to shout.

Though Iran may be involved, if not directly. The Sunni Caliphate imagines the House of Saud ruling all Arab nations. Maybe that special relationship was about to get even more special. Maybe the poofs who own Qatar finally got orders they couldn't abide. They've been good little soldiers for their slightly larger and slightly wealthier neighbor up to now. Maybe somebody on the island got their head around the fact Wahabbism is a death trip. The Qatari still love their Russian girls and French wine.

Swiss-type neutrality isn't an option. The only regional power that could save them from being bombed into the Stone Age is Iran. If SA caught wind of the Qatari royals toe-touching with the Islamic Republic, serious consequences would surely follow. Like being publicly thrown out of the good guys club. And then a bombing campaign and invasion. Two day job for the money soldiers SA could field.

shovelhead's picture


"It was just laying there and nobody was using it, so we slapped an Israel sign on it.

Our's now".

Okaaaay...that sounds reasonable.

effing idiot's picture

Yer a billionaire... and you go on a hunting trip... IN SOUTHERN IRAQ? 26 of you? 100% bullshit.

mkkby's picture

Yep.  ME royals don't cross the street without 1000 servants and military escort.  Yet they went alone to a war zone.  LOL.

WhackoWarner's picture

So?  The Russkie evil narrative is winding down and ineffective?

Now here we go.

I will save the crap to come. 

Qatar is evil.

Saudis are good.

Iran is is always evil.

CIA rocks.  FBI is an example of justice.

Russia has to be meddling here somewhere.  IF not then plant some rumours or finger prints.

USA flies over cash secretly (non-event cause it was Obama idiot)

Someone pays ransom?  (not the Usa policy, unless done in nobody else is allowed).  This story is not going away.  IT IS THE JUNE FEATURE RELEASE.  Box office hit.


OK we now appear to be booking in TV ops for more false flag television and perhaps a few bigger events to distract.  Likely the producers are looking into July now.

And will accelerate the episodes. Fake garbage Hollywood needs to pre-plan budgets and targets and camera angles.  Hundreds die?  Cost of taking over the world.


It will escalate.  Nice to have sponsored the problem and "armed solutions".  Narrative complete.  Good production with pre-planned mind control....all media parroting.




fajensen's picture

Bollocks Article - The Saudis are simply letting their poodle take the fall over their headchoppers fiasco in Syria, probably encouraged by someome on Trumps Weapons Sales Team told them "That's quite is enough of that - or Else".

The Saudis like all management just downsources the blame - "Woot, no, not us. No we couldnt possibly imagine that Quatar, which does everything we ask and is 100% dependent on our financing would suddenly go off the rails like that. Strong Action must be taken!" 

3rdWorldTrillionaire's picture

"in Iraq while on a hunting trip" .... the fuck were they hunting, Kurds?

GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Color me not surprised.

chrsn's picture

What the hell were they hunting in Iraq?

83_vf_1100_c's picture

Goats, young Iraqi boys?

Benito_Camela's picture

Pig scum. 


Namely, westerners and mercenaries. 

Vatican_cameo's picture


Sand Niggers are always in season.  No daily limit either.

WhackoWarner's picture

illusions and lies.

Maybe running down 13 yr. old virgins?  or goats.  Or maybe were never even there.

Gorgeous's picture

"So, if you add that up to the other $700m they paid to Iran and its proxies"

That's small potatoes.  Just a smokescreen.  Got to be a bigger partnership with Iran underlying this kind of antibody reaction.

Gorgeous's picture

"and shit man, she kidnapped herself".

If all that money was transferred, then the kidnapping was a hoax and cover for other deals.  But what deals?  Why would Quatar, one of ISIS biggest sponsers, be in bed with Hezbollah?

WhackoWarner's picture

Pretty good question.

Any conclusions?

fajensen's picture

Those beleivers will take any kind of ass they can get, even the hairy and salty ones sitting on 50+ year old men in combat fatigues! 

Life of Illusion's picture


yes Gorgeous,,,chump change..

Remember save Kuwait from Iraq.......big time debt issued

and after paid down they get back in the club....

TRUMP.."PAY YOUR SHARE"...and thats the start of a new debt game in ME!



HowdyDoody's picture


The USAF flights dropping supplies to ISIS and attacking the Syrian Arab Army are based there? As are the refueling aircraft for the coalition flights bombing schools, hospitals and power stations in Syria?

Gorgeous's picture

I think Trump would consider the base expendable. Plenty of others.

That FT broke the news makes it smell even fishier.


Yog Soggoth's picture

Did not happen under Trump. Quatar could be thrown to the wolves, but maybe something else. Kuwait is a similar country in that it has tons of resources and cash but few people. At least Kuwait is cooperative in the rebuilding of Iraq, not only postponing reparations and providing intel on Daesh, but sharing the port and oilfields. They also pledged a great sum for infrastructure investment to Baghdad. Iraq has got their back if things get weird. It all hinges on how Trump sees things. If Hillary won the entire world would be at war months ago, so at least we all have that going for us.

Soul Glow's picture

WWIII will start between Iran and the House of Saud.

Sheople's picture

Or, the House Attreides and Maud dib

indio007's picture

Or the Hatfields and McCoys.....

BritBob's picture

Iran is a member of the UN C24 decolonisation committee and supports Argentina's mythical Malvinas' claim. So much for the human and democratic rights of the Falkland Islanders and so much for that so-called sovereignty claim:

Falklands – 1833 Usurpation & UN Resolutions:


Guess they're supportin a fairy tale.

Ah nasty politics -v- reality

shovelhead's picture


Because of you, I now support Argentina's claim to the MALVINAS.

I'm Fed-exing the deed now. Move your sheep.

HowdyDoody's picture

"Move your sheep"

That will have to wait. I think they are a little - occupied - at the moment.

Yog Soggoth's picture

Maybe Britbob is an Argentenian posing as an obnoxious Brit to gain support for decolonization? Either way, I support Argentina on that one.

Bill of Rights's picture

I'm sure the next round will be requested in Bitcoin...

Usura's picture

This story is absurd.  The idea Qatar is ostracized for paying a ransom is ridiculous.  And the tie-in to Iran is just too convenient.  Mossad is slipping badly in the credibility department.

Fake_Gas_Chambers's picture

if you always trick others to do your 'heavy lifting,' eventually (on a long enough timeline) yuou become weak.

Brazen Heist's picture

Wait what? The Saudis pissed off about Qatar paying Al Qaeda - the same group they support? I don't buy it.

Financial Times is establishment peddling propaganda. They're trying to pin it all on Qatar. Another excuse to let the Saudi devils off the hook to continue to recylce Petrodollars and pay protection money to the Pentagon.

IridiumRebel's picture

They use a midnight 747 and pallets of cash like Obama?

Sheople's picture

Yes, but they asked that the PetroDollars first be exchanged in denominations of Euros, Rubles, and Sphinxters.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

In "two" words. "BULL" and "SHIT"!

If you said 20% stake in Russia Rosneft and behind the scenes deals with Iran for pipeline construction outside of the Anglo-Zio"hhabi" contingent then you were "red hot"!

TeethVillage88s's picture

I seem to remember US Military Building some kind of facility in Qatar... So US Military probably spent $1 there too.

Maybe it was like handing US Military Funding to Al Qaeda. Buy your friends, better know how smart they are as well as who they are friends with.

Stud Duck's picture

We have a airbase there that dwarfs any in the USA by 5 times. That is on the inside the fence count of Aussies, Brit and US, the support staff living off base is just as big. Massive amounts spent daily on fuel alone!

4 wheel drift's picture

Oh shocks of shocks....     these fucking towelheads are a bunch of corrupted treasonous mother fuckers....    and obozo, hitlery clitoris, pedoesta and the rest of the kommies in the USA live to be in bed with thse criminals....


They have been doing this shit for a loooong time...  they are traitirs to USA all of them


All these traitors need to be arrested and executedl

farflungstar's picture

Iran, Al-Qaeda good you guys got that worked into the headline nicely for all the kikes, Neocons, propagandists for the image of a kindler, gentler Saudi Arabia and IranContras that would like to conflate the two 

VIS MAIOR's picture
Where is the money Obamovski?  400 milion in  "wood package" 

lol ,, us taxpayer must by totaly mad angry on what haapen last two decades in usa-foregin policies and wars around world..+ paying europeans states for free in nato...))