Qatar could have financed Hezbollah in Lebanon

According to a secret report circulating in Germany, the funding was allegedly done through a charity organization in Doha and with the knowledge of the Qatari government authorities
The leader of the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah

AFP/HO/IRAN PRESS  -   The leader of the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah

Secret information uncovered in Germany has revealed that Qatar may have financed Hezbollah in Lebanon through a Doha charity organisation with the knowledge of government officials from the Gulf monarchy. 

The German media company Zeit has pointed out that there is allegedly a game of vested interests and secret service activities linking German, Qatari and Lebanese circles: "The world of the secret services, private agents and various networks is generally hidden from the public. The curtain rarely rises a bit and allows for an intimate view. Such a case is currently taking place: between Berlin, Brussels and the Qatari capital Doha. It is about money, politics, the arms trade and terrorism. And last but not least, a question of morality: how far can a respected German PR agency go in its business?

Zeit said that "the story focuses on Jason G (the first letter of his last name), a contractor who also works as a secret agent and who worked for many security services and intelligence agencies, doing work in many countries around the world, including Qatar.

The newspaper added, "Qatar, the small emirate preparing to host the 2022 World Cup, is known as an active global shadow actor for secret services and activities, supporting extremist organizations.

In Doha, Jason G found sensitive information about an alleged arms deal involving Eastern European war material that was supposed to be handled by a company in Qatar, according to the German newspaper. And there were allegedly large flows of money from several wealthy Qatari and Lebanese exiles in Doha to Hezbollah, an organization with great influence over the Lebanese government, but which is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization and has been banned in Germany since April. There is speculation that the donations were processed with the knowledge of influential government officials through a charity in Doha.

The German newspaper said it became aware of an archive held by Jason, which contained a number of documents about Qatar's secret activity and support for the Shiite group operating in the country of cedars. 

The newspaper's investigation indicated that "there are concrete indications of the flow of funds from Qatar to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, which increases the pressure on Doha and exposes it to significant sanctions. Israel and the United States are the two main countries that have been acting against Hezbollah for a long time. 

Concrete evidence that money is flowing from the Gulf country to terrorist groups would increase pressure on Qatar and could lead to sanctions. This is why the dossier Zeit is referring to is so important. 

Miembros del movimiento chií libanés Hizbulá con los puños cerrados mientras ven un discurso del líder del movimiento, Hasan Nasrallah, transmitido en una pantalla grande en los suburbios del sur de Beirut, la capital libanesa
AFP/ANWAR AMRO - Members of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah with clenched fists as they watch a speech by the movement's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, broadcast on a big screen in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Lebanese capital

Since the end of 2017, a German public relations firm has been involved in mediation, during which agent Jason and a Qatari diplomat met up to six times in Brussels in order to resolve the matter and hand over the file in his possession to Doha. Jason G told the newspaper Zeit that he received 10,000 euros in each meeting, and was subsequently handed another 100,000 euros by Qatari representatives.

In early 2019, Jason G and the Qatari diplomat signed a pact, according to Zeit, stating that the agent would work as a consultant for Doha for one year, in exchange for 10,000 euros per month, in addition to other payments received over the same period. The Qataris promised Jason not to prosecute him on espionage charges and not to share the information in the file with other countries.

According to the German newspaper, Qatar has given large sums of money to Jason G since 2017 to obtain the file in his possession, but the information and copies remain in his possession. Zeit also said he had tried to get a response from the senior Qatari diplomat (whose name has not been released), who led negotiations with Jason, without success.

In May, Jason refused to sign a silence pact in exchange for 750,000 euros from Doha, according to the newspaper. This forced Jason not to talk about the file and its information, and stipulated a large fine in case he violated the agreement.

Jason told the newspaper that he "made the first deal with the Qatari because they promised to expel Hezbollah's financiers from political and power circles," but they did nothing and the understanding came to nothing.

It is estimated that the secret file handled could be worth up to ten million euros. This is potentially important material for combating the financing of Islamist terrorism; and it appears that the German security authorities are on the trail of assessing the matter. 

There could be a lot of interest in getting hold of the secret dossier; both from Qatar's rivals to incriminate it in the alleged financing of terrorist groups, and even from the Qatari state itself to make it disappear.

Qatar is still suspected of encouraging terrorism. In fact, since 2017 an embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain has weighed on the Gulf country. Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Manama accuse Doha of supporting cross-border terrorism, something denied by the authorities of the Gulf monarchy led by Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. 

For its part, Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by several Western countries and has strong links with its major sponsor in the Shiite sphere: the Islamic Republic of Iran. Precisely, the regime of the Ayatollahs is also known for threatening the security of the Middle East and the world with its belligerent attitude and its interference in the state affairs of neighboring nations through related Shiite organizations; as is the case of Hezbollah and Lebanon, the Hutu rebels and Yemen, the guerrilla of Afghan origin of Liwa Fatemiyoun and Syria, Hamas and Palestine or the People's Mobilization Forces and Iraq. 

El presidente de Irán, Hasán Rohaní, y el emir de Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, en Teherán el 12 de enero de 2020
PHOTO/HO/IRANI PRESIDENCY/AFP - Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Tehran on 12 January 2020

It is worth remembering that Qatar and Iran maintain fluid relations, above all as a result of the rapprochement shown by the Persian nation towards the Gulf country and Turkey in the search for new partners after the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on the occasion of the non-fulfilment of the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) limiting the Iranian atomic programme, above all in terms of weapons. This agreement was broken by the US in 2018 when it denounced violations of terms by the Iranians, to later decree the embargo on Iran, which seriously affected the finances of the Persian country.