Islamist militant groups have been popular causes in recent years, raking in arms, money and media attention across the Arab world. Now an investigation by the New York Times indicates that one such donor is the Gulf state of Qatar, an ostensible American ally.
“It’s a place where terrorist fundraising goes on,” says David Kirkpatrick, the Cairo bureau chief for the Times and the author of the story. Qatar, he says, “has made a bet on the future of political Islam.”
“Qatar has been a place where private fundraisers can raise money — a lot of money — so that militant groups in Syria, some tied to al-Qaeda, can buy weapons.” he says. That includes Jabhat al-Nusra, a major rebel group that’s al al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
Money has poured into the Syrian civil war from outside donors, but Kirkpatrick says that Qatar hasn’t limited its support to that conflict. “It has also been supporting a broad spectrum of Islamists of one sort or another around the region,” he says.