US adds Qatari human rights advocate to ‘terrorist’ watch list

US Department of the Treasuy

Michael Pick/Flickr

US Department of the Treasury

A former Qatar University professor has resigned from his position as president of Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama after the US government declared him to be a “terrorist” this week.

Abdul Rahman Bin Umair Al Nuaimi, 59, was added to the US Treasury Department’s watch list on Wednesday for allegedly providing financial support to Al Qaeda, among other groups.

Speaking to the Financial Times from Istanbul, Al Nuaimi denied the charges leveled against him.

“He has decided to resign from the foundation to avoid any misinterpretation,” Alkarama’s executive director, Mourad Dhina, told FT. “We appreciate his move, which shows responsibility.”

In a statement, the US, which also named rights activist Abdul Wahab Mohammad Abdul Rahman Al Humaiqani of Yemen, said the Qatari this year ordered the transfer of nearly $600,000 to Al Qaeda via its representative in Syria.

It also charged that he oversaw the transfer of more than $2 million a month to Al Qaeda in Iraq for a period of time, and that he financed the Somali extremist group al-Shabab, in 2012, channeling funds to Yemen.

Politically motivated?

According to Dhina, the claims were politically motivated, because of Al Nuaimi’s stance against US intervention in the region.

Alkarama, which means dignity in Arabic, was established in 2004 to help people in region who risked torture, arbitrary detention or extra-judicial executions, its website states.

The group, which lobbied against the imprisonment of Qatari poet Ibn Al Dheeb, has worked closely with international human rights organizations, such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty told FT that it was unable to confirm the accuracy of US authorities’ recent statements, and HRW declined to comment.

Qatar residents familiar with Alkarama could not immediately be reached for comment by Doha News. A QU spokeswoman said Al Nuaimi’s has not been affiliated with the university since 2009.

Possibly addressing the strain the US announcement could put on growing ties with Qatar, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said:

“It is essential for countries to take proactive steps to disrupt terrorist financing, especially where al-Qa’ida and its affiliates are concerned. We will continue to work with our partners in the Gulf to ensure that charitable donations are not used to support violence in the region or elsewhere.”

Thoughts?

Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Al Nuaimi is no longer with Qatar University.