Abdul Rahman al-Nuaimi accused of sitting at centre of web of funding for al-Qaeda affiliates in countries ranging from Yemen to Syria, to Iraq to Somalia
Abdul Rahman al-Nuaimi is accused of helping the Iraqi insurgency in the period just after the US-led invasion in 2003
By David Blair and Richard Spencer
Saturday, September 20, 2014
In the summer of 2007, two prominent Somali Islamists left their war-torn country for the tranquillity of Qatar's capital, Doha. The men were put up in the five-star Millennium Hotel before addressing a seminar on the evils of Western intervention in their homeland.
In a Gulf state with no qualms about hosting radicals from across the Muslim world, there was nothing unusual about this event, save for the fact that one organiser had already crossed America's radar screen for his alleged extremist sympathies.
Abdul Rahman al-Nuaimi would later be designated by the US Treasury as a "global terrorist" and accused of sitting at the centre of a web of funding for al-Qaeda affiliates in countries ranging from Yemen to Syria, and from Iraq to Somalia.
Although he protests his innocence, Mr Nuaimi was singled out last December for US sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze.
Despite this public designation, Mr Nuaimi is believed to remain at liberty in Doha.
Until he was named by the US Treasury, he was president of Al-Karama, a charity based in Geneva that describes itself as an "independent human rights organisation" dedicated to helping victims of abuses in the "Arab world".
Mr Nuaimi, 60, has previously worked as a professor of history at Qatar University and even as president of the Qatar Football Association. As such, he appeared to have a dual existence, serving in the worlds of academia and human rights advocacy while, according to the US treasury, raising money for terrorism.
Mr Nuaimi's official US Treasury designation alleges that he "ordered the transfer" of nearly $600,000 (£366,000) to "al-Qaeda" via an individual named as "al-Qaeda's representative in Syria".
He had supposedly planned to pass on another $50,000 (£30,000), but this seems to have been thwarted.
Earlier, he had allegedly served as a significant fundraiser for al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, possibly overseeing the transfer of as much as "$2 million (£1.2 million) per month", according to the US Treasury.
He is also alleged to have liaised between wealthy "Qatari nationals" and "al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders".
Mr Nuaimi is accused of helping the Iraqi insurgency in the period just after the US-led invasion in 2003.
One of the tasks he allegedly performed was taking messages from the insurgents to "media outlets", presumably including Al Jazeera, the satellite news channel based in Doha.
The Treasury believes that Mr Nuaimi's alleged work as a Doha-based terrorist financier went beyond al-Qaeda's affiliates in Iraq and Syria. He is also accused of passing $250,000 (£150,000) to al-Shabaab, the terrorist movement's East Africa wing. This transfer allegedly took place in 2012.
In the same year, Mr Nuaimi is also accused of passing an undisclosed sum of money to a charity linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network's affiliate in Yemen.
Mr Nuaimi's alleged extremist sympathies had been evident for some years before his supposed activities as a terrorist fundraiser.
A leaked cable from the US Embassy in Doha in 2007 describes him as an "Islamist hardliner" and states that he was briefly jailed in 2000, for criticising the wife of Qatar's then ruler for her role in public life.
From then on, Mr Nuaimi was "closely watched", states the cable. Despite this, the event he organised in Doha with the Somali Islamists in 2007 was allowed to go ahead with the "tacit blessing" of the government.
Meanwhile, his alleged part in funding terrorism took place after his supposed views became known.