By Damien McElroy
September 14, 2020
Qatar operated a funding network for arms shipments from Europe to Hezbollah using gold shipments traded through Africa, according the latest revelations on the country’s relationship with the militia.
The Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch published details on Tuesday of high-ranking Qatari officials who coordinated the payments and offered protection for Doha-based Hezbollah financiers. The post from the think tank drew on a dossier compiled by the agent known as Jason who worked undercover in the country.
It named leading officials including Dhalan Al Hamad, who in 2015 was made vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and is Qatar Athletics President.
“General Dhalan Al Hamad, a member of the royal family in Qatar, used gold from Uganda to fund this arms trade,” the dossier states.
The arms-for-gold ring was an elaborate scheme in 2017 to buy weaponry in Serbia and shift the weapons through a network of ex-intelligence officials from North Macedonia. The arms were labelled as building materials and badged as local steel goods. The Balkan middlemen worked with Qatar-based clients to ensure the guns were moved first to the Greek port of Thessaloniki and on to Beirut where the militia dominated the port.
The North Macedonian customs provided fake shipping documents under the direction of a former head of the country’s secret service.
Payment to the Serbian companies was routed through Cyprus in the form of gold supplied by precious metal dealers in Uganda. The funds for the gold ultimately came from Qatar-based charitable organisations that are under the control of the country’s most senior figures. The charities used the country’s leading banks to make the transactions.
Support of Hezbollah is ongoing from Qatar through this year. It is understood that German intelligence has corroborated the information on Qatar’s network across the three continents and beyond. German brought in a ban on Hezbollah earlier this year and carried out a series of raids on suspected operatives of the group around the country.
“With the knowledge of influential government officials, the donations were generated by charities in Doha,” according the dossier “Above all, the Qatari charities Sheikh Eid and the Education Foundation passed on 500 million dollars to Hezbollah in 2020 alone.”
Mena-Watch added that Qatar’s actions were not limited to supporting terrorist attacks and funding its weapons procurement. Hezbollah sent fighters from its ranks to Syria to defend the regime of President Bashar Al Assad.