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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pc_babe's picture

By comparison, Barry's haraam was just

kaboomnomic's picture

1 terrorists, acused other of terrorism.

And the article's made from MSM that came from the country that's the BIGGEST terrorist of them all.


GREAT!! The circle IS... complete!!

onmail1's picture

In the end the evil destroys itself
muslim world
Unholy False $haria Law :

If a wuslim kills a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim injures a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim rapes a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim loots a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim robs a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim cheats a non-wuslim its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.
If a wuslim harms a non-wuslim in any way its no crime, no sin & almighty rewards them.

Their prophet possessed with devil said :
187 : And attack them & slaughter them if they attack ur mosques. Slaughter is the recompense of the infidels(non-wuslims)

Their religion is violence & lies

Their false prophet has ensured that his followers go to hell by ensuring that they do wrong and practice excessive sex & violence.
Wuslims have permitted many wives and easy divorce by saying Talaq 3 times. The women then become helpless and may become prostitutes.
And before they remarry the divorced women has to do HALALA i.e. to have sex with their religious leaders qazis, then only they allow her to get a new husband.

So anyone can see that their practices are devilish leading to hell.

ChaoKrungThep's picture

Read a history of early Christianity, circa 13thC. Even more barbaric & stupid. While good Christians were burning witches at the stake, Muslims were inventing algebra, astronomy, chemistry, etc. Let's hope that in another 700 yrs modern Muslims won't bother with the crap that made Christians so crazy evil. 

ChaoKrungThep's picture

Read a history of early Christianity, circa 13thC. Even more barbaric & stupid. While good Christians were burning witches at the stake, Muslims were inventing algebra, astronomy, chemistry, etc. Let's hope that in another 700 yrs modern Muslims won't bother with the crap that made Christians so crazy evil. 

nevertheless's picture

"Their religion is violence & lies"


So, the Iraq war, ever heard of it, a war by the west built on violence and lies....


Of course the evil behind that war was not Muslim, but Zionism....

Syria, civil war, that Isreal has used their proxy ISIS to wage...

Iran a nation that has been dealing with it's proximity to the Zionist evil since Israhel was created...when the zionist filth is not assassinating Iranians, they are running around demanding the west destroy Iran. 

Isreal steals land every day from the poor poor Palestinians. 

America is infested with this treasonous cult, every Congressemn, every goverment offical serves loyalty to the Zionist tribe or loses their possition.


Muslims, are by no means the evil that corrupts the world, Zionism most surely is. 

OliverAnd's picture

Where is Turkey in this story?  Iran washed its money through Turkey during the embargo.  Qatar sent billions through Turkey to fund the opposition in Syria.  How do you think Erdogan and his family became so rich, so quickly?  Erdogan even built a new palace to house his dictatorship; it is larger than the White House and has regular shows of Ottoman soldiers dressed in traditional military clothes lining the main staircase. 

Kyddyl's picture

The real welfare queens and terrorists reside on Capitol Hill, hold office, and run multi billion dollar corporations while being protected by barely paid serfs. YOUR tax dollars pay for all of it. America is not a country, it's a business.  Your oppression is their profession, same as the ME. 

Aussiekiwi's picture


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

yeah sorry about that, I know you prefer pallet loads not suitcases.

What a pile of crap this region is, wouldn't have anything to do with some insane primitive religion would it?

Free Man's picture

The money Obama send to Iran was in fact Iran's money which had been illegally seized years ago by the US.

Catch up.

nevertheless's picture

true enough, but then what do you call the $38 Billion in aid to Israel?

LoveTruth's picture

What is the benefit of Islam for humanity? I guess to learn what a fake religion is all about. 

ChaoKrungThep's picture

Islam is just Walmart Christianity, 700 yrs behind the times. Muslims are like early Christians - they actually believe that crap.

napper's picture

All religions are beliefs in fake stories. It's just that Muslims seem to be the most violent bunch presently, possibly radicalized by clandestine operations of the CIA, the Mossad, and MI6.

nevertheless's picture

So much hate on here, must be a busy day at Zionist central.


what is the benefit of Judaism, central banking, Hollywood propaganda, open borders for America (pushing the LATINO INVASION), 9/11, oh and lest we forget male circumcision, the atomic bomb and Marxism...Shall I go on Zionist?


But of course most relevant today is the push for the war between the Christians and the Muslims, while Jews sit on the sidelines cheering them both on.


The Jews push for the wars, they push for open borders to allow those who's homes have been destroyed, and with their media they demonize those who question open borders. As always they play both sides of the issue. 


And lest you be hypocritical, if you can question Islam, I can question Judaism. 

majik's picture

If I'm reading about it in the FT it didn't happen, nuff said.

LOL123's picture



Must not be too serious.. Al jazeera news:

"The US military's Central Command says it has "no plans to change our posture in Qatar" amid a Gulf diplomatic crisis. Major Adrian J T Rankine-Galloway said in a statement that US military aircraft continue to fly missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from Qatar's Al-Udeid air base."

..... Covfefe!

theprofromdover's picture

"Qatar paid Al-queda / Iran $1 billion hostage deal"


-of course they did.

Perhaps you get tax-breaks if you call it that.

To Hell In A Handbasket's picture

Bullshit story designed to manipulate the ignorant. Are we really to believe the sunni Al Qaeda and associated sunni jihad is,  did a joint operation with their nemesis, in order to extract money from the Qatar royal family? 

Given the extensive ties between the Gulf Corporation Council countries and their Suni Jihadists, the Qatari's would have been given a heads up somewhere  along the line. This story is fucking bovine manure.

nevertheless's picture

So if a billion is ransom, what is giving $38,000,000,000.00 to Israel?

venturen's picture

Obama and his gift of violence and crime....Good thing Hillary put Iraq into free fall.

gcjohns1971's picture

Who needs Game Of Thrones?

sevensixtwo's picture

I wonder if these people got detained in crazy town when I went there.

nathan1234's picture


Yes it's all about money not $1 billion but many many billions

I think a small memory lapse. Hillary/ Soros funds are stashed in Qatar.

Could you check out and let us know.


CatsPaw's picture

Anyone else having trouble keeping track with how many terrorist groups we have now after the help the USA gave those middle east countries?


J Jason Djfmam's picture

Did the Clinton Foundation pay Qatar 1 Billion to pay Iran & Company 1 billion?

Hope Copy's picture

That's looking like a lot of black smoke.  Qatar is the temporary home to 10,000 US military  service-personel up from the 2000-4000 in the early 2000's.    Yup there is something going on there besides a bank full of gold and a camel track.

40MikeMike's picture

Start whacking Iranian diplomats and agents in foreign countries.


Kidnapping and ransome?




Cruise missiles and assassinations.


C'mon Trump, let's escalate the wet work!