Did Qatar pay $1 billion to terrorists in royal family hostage crisis?
DOHA - Details have emerged about the hostage crisis of Qatar's ruling family which took place nearly three years ago.
A Qatari royal hunting party had apparently been kidnapped and held for ransom whilst in Iraq during December 2015, two members of whom were relatives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, slated to become the next foreign minister of Qatar at the time, Khaleej Times has reported.
Negotiations throughout the 16-month crisis led to a Qatar Airways plane taking money to Baghdad in exchange for the hostages in April of 2017.
It appears that in a series of text messages, over a billion dollars in ransom money was potentially paid to persons who have been identified as terrorists by the US government, including Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, General Qasem Soleimani in Iran, Hayat Tahrir al Sham (Al Nusra Front) in Syria.
Text messages between the Qatari Ambassador to Iraq, Zayed al-Khayareen, and the Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani have been accepted by Qatari officials as genuine, but "edited very selectively", according to a report by BBC link.
In the messages, an amount seeming in excess of $1 billion was quoted as the money needed to free the hostages.
Voice and text messages were originally leaked to the *Washington Post* link in April of this year. Qatar's government is claiming that they paid the money to the Iraqi state and no terrorists received the cash.
Qatari officials maintain the money was given for the economic development and security development of Iraq's government, not to the ransomers. They claim that the money remains in a vault in Iraq's central bank and "on deposit".
A few months after the money was paid and the crisis resolved, the Arab blockade of Qatar began.