Amid the growing spat between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors over the former’s funding of Islamic terror organizations and cooperation with Iran, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Saturday that the Palestinian terror group Hamas is “a legitimate resistance movement.”
“The U.S. sees Hamas as a terror organization, but to the rest of the Arab nations it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,” Al-Thani said during a visit to Russia.
“We cooperate with the Palestinian Authority…Hamas’s presence in Qatar doesn’t mean there’s support for Hamas in Qatar. Hamas’s presence is a political representation of the Hamas movement,” he added.
Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have called on Qatar to end its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood—both terrorist adversaries of Israel. Hamas arch-terrorist Saleh al-Arouri and other terrorists from the Gaza-ruling group, who had found a safe haven in Qatar, were reportedly expelled from Doha due to unspecified “pressure” last week.
Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in 2007 told the U.S. Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Stuart Levey, that Qatar offers “more support to fundamentalists than Kuwait or Saudi Arabia” and is “willfully bad” on issues related to financing Islamist terror organizations, according to diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.