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UK Blacklists Qatari for Terror Finance, Pledges Closer U.S. Coordination

Ten months after the U.S. Treasury sanctioned suspected terrorist financier Abdulrahman bin Omeir al-Nuaymi, the United Kingdom has followed suit, instructing British financial institutions to freeze any accounts in his name. The announcement came Friday, three days after British Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs from his party that there should be no daylight between the British and American terror finance lists. He vowed to personally oversee his country's sanctions list out of concern it was too lenient.

The U.K. move was not surprising. After all, al-Nuaymi was blacklisted by the United Nations on September 23rd, the EU on October 8th, and even Turkey at the end of September. According to the U.S. government, al-Nuaymi "provided money and material support to al-Qa'ida and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen for more than a decade." At one point, he reportedly provided the Islamic State's forerunner in Iraq with $2 million a month.

But the delay between his U.S. designation in December and the U.K. action this month hints at a broader divide between America and one of its closest allies on counterterrorism. Intelligence sharing between Britain and the United States is historically superb, as is the bilateral sanctions cooperation between Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury) and the U.S. Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). But the U.S. and U.K. lists are still not in sync. Only two of seven individuals with Qatari nationality blacklisted by Washington for financing al-Qaeda have been included on the U.K. list so far.

The lists of Qataris may soon square. Friday's announcement comes on the heels of a major effort by Britain's Sunday Telegraph, the "Stop the Funding of Terror" campaign, highlighting Qatar's negligence on terror finance. The paper described London's listing of al-Nuaymi as "a victory against terror fundraising." It praised Cameron's pledge to bring his country's terror finance list in line with Washington's, and also cited mounting pressure within parliament to strip sanctions authority from a senior Treasury official who is simultaneously responsible for attracting investments from Qatar, Lord Paul Deighton, highlighting the conflict of interest.

The designation of any Qatari nationals is decidedly awkward for the U.K. Under a new agreement signed in November, an estimated one eighth of British homes will be heated through 2018 using Qatari natural gas. Doha's sovereign wealth fund owns London's tallest skyscraper, its iconic department store Harrods, part of British bank Barclays, and even the building that houses the American Embassy in London. U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury's, which removed kosher foods from its shelves at a London branch during this summer's Gaza war, is one-quarter owned by Qatar with rumors flying that Doha may launch a full takeover bid.

Lord Deighton, who has refused interview requests on the subject, visited Qatar just over a year ago to solicit additional investments in British infrastructure. Members of Parliament on the Commons Treasury select committee are now considering a full investigation into the government's handling of this issue, and calls to split Deighton's responsibilities into separate positions are now coming from both Labour and Conservative MPs. Regardless of what comes of this bureaucratic question, Qatari designations are sure to remain in focus. MP Stephen Barclay of North East Cambridgeshire, insists "Parliament does need to be told why a known funder of global terrorism, on whom there was already considerable evidence, was not included in the UK sanctions list for 10 months".

[Source: By David Andrew Weinberg, Foundation for Defense of Democracia, 21Oct14]

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small logoThis document has been published on 27Oct14 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.