Sunday 20 October 2019
Terrorist paymaster targeted by Britain
One of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi has finally been banned from doing business in Britain — 10 months after he was hit with sanctions by the United States.
By Tim Ross, Robert Mendick and Edward Malnick
10:52PM BST 18 Oct 2014
One of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers has finally been banned from doing business in Britain — 10 months after he was hit with sanctions by the United States.
Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi, a Qatari who is accused of sending more than £1 million a month to al-Qaeda jihadists in Iraq, has been added to a list of terrorist suspects and groups targeted with financial sanctions in Britain.
The move by the Treasury will freeze any assets he has in the UK and prevent any banks with British offices from dealing with him.
It follows The Sunday Telegraph’s Stop the Funding of Terror campaign, which has highlighted how Gulf states — including Qatar — have turned a blind eye to terror financiers operating within their midst.
The decision to subject al-Nuaymi to sanctions will inevitably intensify pressure on ministers to tighten restrictions against Qatar and other Gulf states accused of harbouring terrorist financiers.
Questions are also being asked about why it took 10 months to include al-Nuaymi on the Treasury sanctions list when the US blacklisted him as long ago as December.
Ministers are now facing calls to launch a full-scale review of the sanctions regime, with MPs warning that the delay in banning a dangerous terrorist could mean others are slipping through the net.
Al-Nuaymi, who has been an adviser to the Qatari government, is accused of sending £1.25 million a month to jihadists in Iraq, the forerunners of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Over the past month, The Sunday Telegraph has highlighted how al-Nuaymi, a Qatari, had not been arrested in his home country and was not subject to British sanctions, despite being designated a “global terrorist” by the US in December.
He was finally added to the Treasury’s list of sanctioned individuals last week.
MPs from across the political spectrum have demanded that ministers explain why British financial sanctions do not mirror the list of alleged terrorists whose assets have been frozen by the Americans.
Five more suspects from Qatar alone who are subject to American sanctions are not banned in Britain, meaning that they are potentially free to use British banks and do business in the UK.
Two British hostages — Alan Henning and David Haines — have been beheaded by Isil fighters, believed to include a British man nicknamed “Jihadi John”, while a third is still being held captive.
In other developments:
- The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that David Cameron promised he would personally re-examine the UK’s sanctions regime in light of concerns that it is too lenient. At a meeting of Conservative MPs on Tuesday night, the Prime Minister was challenged over the issue and was “unequivocal” in his view that there should be no discrepancy between British and American anti-terrorism sanctions;
- The Treasury select committee is to consider initiating a full investigation into the UK’s failure to sanction Qatari terror financiers. Three members of the 13-strong committee told this newspaper they would support an inquiry;
- Lord Deighton, the commercial secretary to the Treasury, is facing calls to be stripped of responsibility for overseeing the sanctions regime because he is also leading efforts to attract investment from sovereign wealth funds in Qatar, Kuwait and other countries;
Stephen Barclay, a Conservative MP, wrote formally to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff to demand answers from Downing Street on why Qataris banned by the US are not prohibited by Britain. Ministers are facing a barrage of questions in Parliament on the issue.
Last month, The Sunday Telegraph launched the Stop the Funding of Terror campaign, calling for action to cut the flow of funding from states such as Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to extremists.
A series of investigations disclosed that Gulf states with major trade links to Britain have been allegedly “turning a blind eye” to the financing of jihadists, including via individuals with close links to the ruling regimes.
In the case of Qatar, which owns Harrods and co-owns the Shard in London, at least seven extremists connected to the Gulf state have been hit by US sanctions.
Last week, this newspaper disclosed that only one of them had been hit with similar sanctions by Britain.
Now a second – al-Nuaymi – has been added to the Treasury sanctions list.
The Prime Minister was personally challenged over the apparent lack of government action at Tuesday’s meeting of Conservative MPs.
Mr Cameron told the meeting he would personally review Britain’s sanctions, saying in “unequivocal” terms that the country should adopt the same standards as America, according to those present.
Mr Barclay has since written to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, to ask why the individuals do not appear on the list of sanctions targets. “He agreed to go away and look at that and suggested there shouldn’t be a difference,” he said.
Mr Barclay welcomed the fact that al-Nuaymi was subjected to Treasury sanctions, but called for “a wider review” to make sure no more mistakes had been made.
“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,” the MP for North East Cambridgeshire said.
Members of the Commons Treasury select committee are to consider launching a full investigation into the Government’s financial sanctions procedures.
John Mann, a Labour member of the committee, wrote to Andrew Tyrie, its chairman, to propose the investigation.
He said Lord Deighton should be called before the committee to give an explanation and suggested the peer’s responsibilities should be split so that he was no longer leading efforts to attract billions of pounds of investment from the Gulf while overseeing the financial sanctions list.
“The roles should be split and the Government should give responsibility for financial sanctions to somebody else.”
Lord Deighton was unavailable for interview.
A spokesman for the Treasury said the vast majority of sanctions were imposed through the European Union and United Nations, adding: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leads on designating foreign individuals for sanctions with HM Treasury leading on implementation.”
Al-Nuaymi was identified as a “specially designated global terrorist” — making him one of the world’s most wanted men — by the US government on Dec 18 last year. It has taken the British Treasury 10 months to include him on the UK terror sanctions list.
According to the US Treasury, al-Nuaymi has funded a number of violent jihadist groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner to Isil, as well as al-Shabaab in Somalia and other groups in the Middle East. According to the US, al-Nuaymi was at one stage transferring £1.25 million a month to al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2013, he was also discovered to have transferred £375,000 to an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria.
Al-Nuaymi denies the allegations against him and the Qatari government denies funding terrorism.
Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s foreign minister, said his country did not support — “in any way” — the “evil” groups “terrorising innocent citizens and destabilising the Middle East”.
He added that Qatar’s finance ministry and central banks worked closely with other governments to counter terrorist financing, while the government also worked with international security forces.
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