National Security

Lawsuit Alleges Qatar Secretly Financed Terror Attacks that Killed Americans

A view of lower Manhattan and it's courthouses
A view of lower Manhattan and it's courthouses / Getty Images

Qatar secretly provided funding for several terror attacks that killed Americans and Israelis, according to allegations leveled in an unprecedented new lawsuit filed in New York City on Wednesday that seeks compensation for the families of those killed.

Multiple Qatari financial institutions, largely controlled by the country’s ruling monarch, provided millions of dollars to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), two U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that waged multiple successful attacks on American citizens, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. As part of this alleged funding scheme, Qatari charities allegedly used the U.S. banking system to illegally funnel these groups the money necessary to orchestrate and conduct the attacks.

As Hamas’s most prolific funder, "Qatar coopted several institutions that it dominates and controls to funnel coveted U.S. dollars (the chosen currency of Middle East terrorist networks) to Hamas and PIJ under the false guise of charitable donations," according to the lawsuit, which was filed under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act and has been in the works for the last two years.

Revelations of Qatar’s alleged involvement in these terror plots is likely to fuel ongoing congressional investigations into Qatar’s support for terror factions and other anti-U.S. militia groups. Qatar’s involvement with these groups has also been a source of tension with its regional neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt—all of which cut ties with the regime in 2017 due to its support for terrorism.

The lawsuit was filed by American attorney Steven Perles, who has prosecuted several notable terrorism cases filed on behalf of the families and victims of these terror attacks. The current case includes among its plaintiffs the family of Taylor Force, an American military veteran killed by Hamas in 2016.

"In addition to holding those who have financed terrorism accountable, this case should serve as a strong deterrent to others who might consider similar activities," Perles told the Free Beacon.

American victims of terrorism have won similar cases in the past, including the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks and those killed by Iran. Earlier this year, American victims of the 1983 attack on a U.S. embassy compound in Lebanon were awarded $1.5 billion in damages. Other cases, however, have dragged on for years with no end in sight. In many instances it has been difficult for the legal system to extract funds from malign regimes and their supporters.

Qatar allegedly skirted U.S. sanctions on Hamas and PIJ by enlisting several of its charitable organizations in a scheme to funnel funds to the terror groups. As with many other terror financing cases, it was critical this money be provided in U.S. dollars.

The lawsuit specifically targets Qatar Charity, which was founded in 1992 as Qatar Charitable Society. The organization serves as "a key funding source for international terrorists" and is believed to have been a major source of funding for deceased terror leader Osama bin Laden.

Qatar Charity allegedly worked with Masraf Al Rayan bank and Qatar National Bank to forward Hamas and PIJ millions of dollars, according to the lawsuit. Both banks "were essential to provide access to the U.S. financial system to obtain the U.S. dollars needed to sustain Hamas’s and PIJ’s terrorist activities," the lawsuit states. The banks and charity group are largely controlled by members of Qatar’s royal family.

Masraf Al Rayan bank is currently under investigation in the United Kingdom for helping Qatar Charity send money to Hamas and PIJ.

After funneling the charitable donations through banks located in New York, the money was allegedly transferred to Qatar Charity’s accounts at the Bank of Palestine and the Islamic Bank in Ramallah, where the funds were then distributed to affiliates of Hamas and PIJ.

Between March and September 2015, at least $28 million dollars was distributed by Qatar Charity to its affiliates in Palestinian-controlled territories, according to the lawsuit. Internal documents from Qatar Charity noted in the lawsuit further indicate that it transferred funds to Hamas and PIJ fronts from at least 2013.

It is alleged that these funds directly aided at least six terror attacks conducted by Hamas and PIJ operatives between 2014 and 2016. This includes multiple car-ramming attacks in Israel, in which terrorists drove vehicles into crowds of people, killing several American citizens. Others were kidnapped and stabbed by Hamas operatives in and around Israel.

The most prominent plaintiff is the family of Taylor Force, whose name is attached to legislation passed by Congress in 2017 that blocks American aid to the Palestinian Authority due to its policy of using this cash to pay convicted terrorists and their families. Nine other families also are included in the lawsuit.