U.K. media is reporting Justice Minister Jack Straw is helped to obtain financing from the Emir of Qatar for a mosque in his constituency. According a report by the Times Online:
Jack Straw helped to secure a £1.5m donation from the Emir of Qatar to a mosque in his Blackburn constituency. The justice secretary’s help in fixing the gift was used by the Labour party to woo the Muslim vote, it was claimed this weekend. MPs, security experts and moderate Islamic leaders said Straw’s role raised serious concerns about the way some foreign states were trying to sway the religious views of British Muslims. Straw wrote a letter of introduction to help his friend and political ally Lord Patel of Blackburn persuade the emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, to part with £1.5m.The gift came after Straw, then leader of the Commons, accepted free first-class flights and accommodation for himself and his wife for a four-day trip to the desert kingdom in April 2007. He declared the Qatari hospitality in the MPs’ register of interests six months later….This weekend, the Liberal Democrats said the Labour party in Blackburn had used Straw’s involvement in the mosque donation to garner votes from local Muslims. Salim Lorgat, a Lib Dem councillor in Blackburn, said Straw was widely credited among Muslims with securing the funding for the Bicknell Street mosque…The £1.5m Qatari gift was half the £3m that Patel needed to build the five-storey mosque. Patel, 69, a former businessman, is chairman of Blackburn’s central mosque in Bicknell Street, which attracts hundreds of worshippers and is one of 35 mosques in the city. He was created Baron Patel of Blackburn in 2000. This weekend he disclosed that Straw gave him “a reference letter” that helped him solicit the donation during an appeal for funds to several Middle Eastern governments. “It was a general letter introducing me,” said Patel. “He is a Blackburn MP and he wrote that as a Blackburn MP.” Patel declined to explain how he had managed to talk personally to the emir.
An earlier post discussed a secret British intelligence report that raised concerns about the relationship between Justice Secretary Jack Straw and the U.K Muslim Brotherhood.
Individual Qatari officials have supported radical Islamists in the past. For example, in the 1990s, September 11 plotter Khaled Shaikh Muhammad worked in Qatar as an engineer. When the United States discovered his presence and demanded his arrest, a Qatari minister aided his flight to Pakistan. In the case of Hamas, however, Qatari support has been official policy. Qatar allows Hamas to maintain official offices in the country, permits Hamas to raise funds there through charities and telethons, and regularly hosts Hamas officials. Over the past few years, official government support for Hamas has increased drastically. Mashal and other Hamas leaders divide their time between Doha and the Syrian capital, Damascus. According to Mashal, Hamas “established a relation with Qatar ever since Prince Hamad bin Khalifa was the heir to the crown. A good relation[ship]developed with the people of Qatar. After he held the reins of power, the relation[ship]remained good. I had a personal relation with the prince and his minister of foreign affairs, Shaikh Hamad bin Jasem bin Jabr.” Following Saudi crackdowns on charitable financial flows exiting the kingdom, overt Qatari financial support for Hamas increased dramatically. Qatar pledged to donate $50 million to the then Hamas-run Palestinian Authority after the United States and European Union discontinued their support following Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 legislative elections. Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Qatar began citing the humanitarian crisis caused by the international financial isolation of Hamas in Gaza to justify its support for the group. In early 2008, however, a senior aide to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stated that Qatar gives Hamas “millions of dollars a month,” some of which may be used to purchase weapons.
The Washington Institute report also notes the relationship between Qatar and Youssef Qaradawi:
Prominent Muslim Brotherhood theologian Shaikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, who shared the podium with Mashal in Qatar last week, uses the platform of a regular show on al-Jazeera to proselytize his conservative and violent interpretation of Islam. Qatar openly tolerates his extremist views and Hamas fundraising, as al-Qaradawi noted at last week’s event: “I have been living in Qatar for many years and the Qatari government has never interfered in my activities.”
Youssef Qaradawi is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. Qaradawi is also known to be a leader of a charity coalition known as the Union of Good, described in a NEFA Foundation report as “a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. “
It should also be noted that previous posts have extensively discussed the relationship of Al-Jazeera and its management to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera is headquartered in Qatar.