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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Chippewa Partners's picture

Hunters getting the blame again gosh dang...........It's knife and van control I tell  ya......................

Giant Meteor's picture

"While there is no official evidence, the FT adds ....."

Well, this all makes complete sense now ..

The villains of choice, are villanized further, official stories and narratives snap together , takes the focus off of other developments, such as , 

Analysts: Leaks could threaten Emirati diplomacy

Leaked emails point to strong relationship between the UAE and think tanks closely allied to Israel.

The Saudi-focused agenda, according to Al Jazeera's correspondent in Washington, and the fact that the UAE has permitted itself to evaluate the Saudi role in the region indicates that the UAE is attempting to become the United States' primary ally and "right hand" in the Middle East, replacing Saudi Arabia.

Commenting on what the leaks revealed about Emirati efforts to tarnish the image of Kuwait and Qatar, Kuwaiti writer and political analyst Mohammed al-Dosari said that such efforts could lead to the dissolution of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

"The GCC is living through a period of confusion caused by media fabrications that have the people of the Gulf as their only victim," Dosari told Al Jazeera.


TeethVillage88s's picture

Globalism has to weed our regional leadership.

Too many Royals & Kings. If they are not with us in attacking China & Russia... well and if they are not LOYAL... well

HowdyDoody's picture

There is evidence - of Saudis supporting ISIS. A recent report (1 June 2017) gives details of 400 Saudi and Kuwaiti students on study scholarships in the US who left to join ISIS. The Saudis worked hard to prevent publication.

Link to a PDF of the report.

Giant Meteor's picture

Thanks. I always return to read comments for this reason. I mean to me it is so obvious this has been going on years on end, and then we are are treated with new story lines trotted out of no fucking sense whatsoever, but heh, it's worked up until this point .. although the bullshit is so bad, changes by the hour, reeks of desperation to my way of thinking ..

Which going with what is known, makes perfect sense ..

Thanks Again,


dogismycopilot's picture

Doha is a Leper Colony.

Is regime change coming to Doha?

Will they get rid of that creep fucking spider statue in their Convention Center when they do?

shovelhead's picture

Arabs ain't noted for their style sense once the depart from the orthodox Mosque design.

They're even worse than the Italians wanting to slap gold leaf on everything.

taketheredpill's picture



Que?  26 people kidnapped in 2015.  2015, 2 Years Ago, and this is news today?  Not 2 weeks ago, 2 YEARS.  Confusing as Fuck, which is maybe the intention.


Also, if Al-Qaeda considers Shia to be Heretics, how does the hostage deal involve both Al-Qaeda and SHIA militias?  This was a Joint-venture, WTF?



dogismycopilot's picture

Yes, they were held for almost 2 years. The Qataris and Iraqis were trying to negotiate their release and then the Qataris said fuck it and flew in a place full of money that the Iraqis seized. Then the Qataris sent a second plane full of money. In short, the Qataris just had the most EXPENSIVE FUCKING HUNTING TRIP IN HUMAN HISTORY!

Random_Robert's picture

The Qatari royals were in war-torn  Iraq on a "hunting trip"...?    Yeah, sure they were.





Librarian's picture

The snipe hunting is legendary in Iraq.

I am surprised that travel agents don't sell more snipe hunting tour packages.

Or is it called by some other euphemism these days?

Kendle C's picture

It would appear this entire confabulation is manufactured to "house" the fact of the payments occurring, to provide an alternate version of truth. If they can pay a billion for a couple of dickheads "hunting" literally in a war torn occupied country with soldiers engaged in searching for foreign actors. The "hunters" had to be the stupidest bonehead dumbfucks in the world.

So clearly, MI6 or the CIA's best showmen concocted this attempt to "save" the Qatari royals from humiliation. Make them look like bumbling dummies with more money than brains. Tell a big enough complex enough yarn and we'll lap it up, not!

The next time I read the word "affiliated" in one of these screeds I'm gonna puke. 



TeethVillage88s's picture

The US spends $35 billion on foreign aid . . . but where does the ...

Nov 4, 2015 ... The United States provided approximately $35 billion in economic ... Countries scaled to the economic aid they receive from the U.S. - Graphic: howmuch. ... Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, ...

Herdee's picture

Just act like the Clinton's and the Obama's ( Hussein and his tranny wife Michael )

zeroboris's picture

The key trigger smells like bullshit to link Iran and Al-Qaeda in one title.

Caleb Abell's picture

Which is a good trick since Iran is Shia and Al-Qaeda is Sunni.

dirty fingernails's picture

That'll fly right by the average plebe. Way too subtle for sound bytes and goldfish attention spans. Idiocracy, the documentary

Giant Meteor's picture

Saudi Wahhabism bad, very bad ... welcome to our friendly allies, state sponsors of terrorism, with assist from US and Israel friendlies, backed of course by the petro dollar, but it seems things are getting a bit sketchy as late, too many folks catching on, and what with other's looking for more viable and sustainable alternatives ..

Things just ain't what they used to be. The "Global Financial Crisis" and before that Sept. 11th 2001 , is the tale of the tape.

"The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud's successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are the official, state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam[3][21] in Saudi Arabia.[22] With the help of funding from Saudi petroleum exports[23] (and other factors[24]), the movement underwent "explosive growth" beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence.[3] The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades the capital Riyadh has invested more than $10bn (£6bn) into charitable foundations in an attempt to replace mainstream Sunni Islam with the harsh intolerance of its Wahhabism"


francis scott falseflag's picture


Things just ain't what they used to be.


That's what I said the other night in my post PEAK DEEP STATE, which I spent hours

 on and got no replies and one up and one down vote.  No mention in the article of the

Emir of Qatar's very successful meeting with Putin in the Kremlin.  A couple, half dozen

months ago, google it yourself.

By "peak deep state" I did not mean that they were washing windshields on the freeway

off ramps.  Peak anything just means not what it used to be.  I never meant it was all over

for the deep state. Since Edward Snowden landed in Moscow in June 2013, the deep state

has taken some serious hits.  Six months later Putin grabbed Crimea before Nuland even

had time to chill the champagne.  The sanctions, which were supposed to put Russia out

of business, only managed to hurt the economies of the deep state's satrapies.

The surprise air attack on ISIS in November 2015 caught everyone by surprise.  I don't

have to repeat my theory about the shoot down of the SU-24 by the Turks.  And now it

looks like Germany will be removing all their survailence planes from Incirlik.  Turkey

is a major loss for the deep state.  As is Duterte and the Philippines in the South China

Sea theatre.  Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are no longer in lock step with the

Pentagon.  Russia has the Arctic sewn up.


It's not 'game over' by any means but these losses by the deep state can't still be

overshadowed by the Kennedy assassination and nabbing Saddam and Noriega.


Putin probably knows more about the deep state than the deep state knows about itself.

Certainly, more than all the editors of the MSM.  


For some reason, when Oliver Stone interviewed Putin, he asked President Putin about

his bodyguard.  From that I concluded that Putin knows that CIA/NSA/Pentagon want

him dead, yesterday, last week, last year, and that Russia has something in place to

deal with Putin's death, no matter how believable the false flag incident is.


All of NATO/EU know that the deep state's progress has been stopped in its tracks,

and, in spite of the Blackmail and Bribery of the last 70 years, many of them must

be having second thoughts about whose side they want to be on.

BTW, what does this do to the Qatari pipeline through Syria to Berlin theory? 

IranContra's picture

Iran, Qatar, and Britain do sponsor terrorism. The anti-terror Arab states are now ostracizing Qatar. Iran is under pressure by many. Only Britain remains to be scrutinized by someone, who's gonna do it?

blue51's picture

Still , better than a hunting trip with Cheney .

dirty fingernails's picture

Hey, if somebody doesn't take some birdshot to the face it isn't real hunting. Extra props if you can get them to apologize on TV for you shooting them

apoplectic query's picture


So what does this have to do with Seth Rich?


barysenter's picture

What were they hunting? Sunnis?

land_of_the_few's picture

The Qatari Royals on the hunting trip *are* Sunnis, if that helps ....

True Contrarian's picture

Eh we are on a hunting trip in Iraq. Eh the ransom is...a billion Dollars. Eh blow me.

Tenshin Headache's picture

"the deal, which was concluded in April"

BEFORE the President's visit to Saudi Arabia (May 20). He'll be pissed.

robertocarlos's picture

If I was kid-nap-ped in Iraq the Canadian government would pay up to, and including, tree fitty CDN dollars ($3.50) for my release.

dirty fingernails's picture

+1 for the south park reference

johnnycanuck's picture

"Qatar used the evacuation arrangement to pay $120-$140m to Tahrir al-Sham."

That would be Hayat Tahrir al-Sham I presume. Or HTS for short. Which is the new name of what used to be Jabhat Al Nusra, then Jabhat fateh al-Sham, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

Now HTS has yet another new name, the US no longer includes them on it's list of terrorist organizations.  So, Jabhat Al Nusra having been birthed by AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) and expanded in Syria, which then split in two and birthed ISIS mostly due to arguments over shares of the spoils, is now one of the USA's designated 'moderate rebel' organizations and would qualify for US aid including arms.

You may have noticed the FT didn't bother to mention any of that.

It's all a bit incestuous don't you think?

dirty fingernails's picture

It's also rather convenient that FT is making a connection between Iran and al-Qaida when the US and Brits are on the ground supporting these "moderate" headchoppers while Iran is actually helping Syria fight them. There is no connection,  just that two ransoms were paid to two different groups in two different countries; one group is Shia and Iran is Shia, the other group is Sunni.

SmittyinLA's picture

I bet the Obama regime officials skimmed back deals from the Iranians before the deal was sealed.

Prediction more leaks for Hillary and AlGore

Herr Deux's picture

Smells like disinfo to me.

Back to the George Webb investigation on youtube

Iconoclast421's picture

Could this be a form of money laundering with plausible deniability? We cant give you support directly because it would make us look bad. However, we can arrange an "incident" in which we are forced to pay a ransom....

decentralisedscrutinizer's picture


Almost all the world’s economic and political problems revolve around the hegemony of a global corporate cartel, which is headquartered in the US because this is where their dominant military force resides. The US Constitution is therefore the “kingpin” of an all-inclusive global financial empire. These fictitious entities now own the USA and command its military infrastructure by virtue of the Federal Reserve Corporation, regulatory capture, MSM propaganda, and congressional lobbying.


The Founders had to fight a bloody Revolutionary War to win our right to incorporate as a nation – the USA. But then, for whatever reason, our Founders granted the greediest businessmen among them unrestricted corporate charters with enough potential capital & power to compete with the individual states, smaller sovereign nations, and eventually to buy out the USA itself. The only way The People can regain our sovereignty as a constitutional republic now is to severely curtail the privileges of any corporation doing business here. To remain sovereign we have to stop granting corporate charters to just any “suit” that comes along without fulfilling a defined social value in return. The "Divine Right Of Kings” should not apply to fictitious entities just because they are “Too Big To Fail”. We can't afford to privatize our Treasury to transnational banks anymore. Government must be held responsible only to the electorate, not fictitious entities; and banks must be held responsible to the government if we are ever to restore sanity, much less prosperity, to the world.


It was a loophole in our Constitution that allowed corporate charters to be so easily obtained that a swamp of corruption inevitably flooded our entire economic system. It is a swamp that can't be drained at this point because the Constitution doesn’t provide a drain. This 28th amendment is intended to install that drain so Congress can pull the plug ASAP. As a matter of political practicality we must rely on the Article 5 option to do this, for which the electorate will need overwhelming consensus beforehand. Seriously; an Article 5 Constitutional Convention is rapidly becoming our only sensible option.


This is what I think it will take to save the world; and nobody gets hurt: 28th Amendment


Corporations are not persons in any sense of the word and shall be granted only those rights and privileges that Congress deems necessary for the well-being of the People. Congress shall provide legislation defining the terms and conditions of corporate charters according to their purpose; which shall include, but are not limited to:


1, prohibitions against any corporation;


a, owning another corporation,


b, becoming economically indispensable or monopolistic, or


c, otherwise distorting the general economy;


2, prohibitions against any form of interference in the affairs of;


a, government,


b, education,


c, news media, or


d, healthcare, and


3, provisions for;


a, the auditing of standardized, current, and transparent account books, and


b, the establishment of a state and municipal-owned banking system


c, civil and criminal penalties to be suffered by corporate executives for violation of the terms of a corporate charter.


cat-foodcafe's picture

Why is my bullshit detector off-scale, screaming, and exactly why has the Clinton Fdn. moved all its assets to a Qatari bank, with assistance from John Podesta ?  Why did Bitch Klinton and her husband, ex-pres. Billy "AIDS" Klinton reportedly purchase a luxury home on a Qatari beach ?

Looks to me like a Persian Gulf takedown in-progress, with much more to come.

MOSSAD ANYONE ?  Or has Obama just run out of friends, and this is payback?

Looking like Yemeni forces will now have some kind of assistance/green light to invade Saudi Arabia, with help from the Royal Saudi Army.

House of Saud going down next.  They used Qatar to fund ISIL.

We need to get serious and ask Megyn Kelly exactly what is happening.  Forget Putin politely telling the Blonde Bomber she is Full of Shit on NBC last night.  [Also another weird coincidence, no?]

Greed is King's picture

"Looks to me like a Persian Gulf takedown in-progress, with much more to come".

That it is, but the exact opposite of your assumption, the plan is for Qatar AND Iran to be suburbs of Saudi Arabia; why would America help ?, I`ve answered that question before, access to the Caspian Sea in the case of Iran, and a rich mans playground for the Clintonites of America and the Establishmentarians of Britain which would rival the Cuba of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, to replace Epstein Island, which they all sorely miss.

Librarian's picture

You are on the right track here.

Do you remember that scene from the movie "Blow" when the protagonist learned that the millions he'd put into a foreign bank had been nationalized and his money gone?

Sanity Bear's picture

The Occam's Razor explanation is that Trump offered the Saudis a deal they couldn't refuse.

SmallerGovNow2's picture

No that makes no sense at all.  We have an airbase and CENTCOM forward hqs in Qatar...

Greed is King's picture

Ideal place to help Saudi Arabia then is`nt it, the enemy within.

Greed is King's picture

Yes, war between Saudi Arabia and Iran fought with American advanced weaponry, and when Saudi marches into Iran, Saudi`s American backers will have access to the Caspian Sea and finally complete its missile encirclement of Russia.

Does Putin know this ?, of course he does, will Putin allow it ?, not a snowball in hells chance !!.

Librarian's picture

This game works in both directions.

Not taking something can be valued the same as giving something.

Especially if it's something that can demonstratably be easily taken away.

We would already know it if Putin was worried.

charlewar's picture

qatar could borrow the plane hussein obama used to drop off the $450 million...

any_mouse's picture

Alleged, allegedly. Unnamed regional officials. Yes, must be true.

Al Qaeda. The CIA?

Release of 50 Qatari militants in Syria, taken prisoner by Al Qaeda?

Right. Moderate terrorists.

The Royals were on a hunting trip in Iraq. Sounds like going hunting over the border into northern Mexico. Maybe the Royals are extreme danger freaks and African bush safaris are just too tame where only the wild animals may attack.

Pile the fertilizer higher. Something's bound to sprout and take root.

LA_Goldbug's picture

The Qatar Misdirection Scam

"We don't support terrorist like Iran, Syria, thus we are breaking relations with those who finance them."

But this part is sweet though most CNN/BBC viewers will have forgotten this one,

"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."

WTFUD's picture

Torn between two factions
In town on a hunt
Those complicated fractions
Are making me out a cunt.

Why not everybody sit around in a circle and smoke a pipe of peace?