SHAFAQNA – Gulf States must take action against citizens who are funding terror across the globe, former home secretary David Blunkett has said.
Countries including Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are tolerating and even protecting funders of the so-called Islamic State insurgent group, Mr Blunkett claimed.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph he said: ‘It is the money made through the sale of oil in what are substantially oil-rich fiefdoms which is oiling the wheels of terror.
‘It is being used to purchase the armaments and facilitate the sophisticated communication of Isil (Islamic State) militants and others.’
The Gulf states had long handed money and weapons to Sunni Islamist factions in the rebellion against the largely secular Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the hope that his overthrow would lead to a Sunni state.
It was thought such a reordering of power break Shia Iran’s link to the Mediterranean.
But althought it is claimed that they have not officially funded Islamic State terrorists, there are deep religious and political sympathies between the group and powerful figures in the Gulf states.
And Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in particular, are notorious for using their vast oil wealth to support and promote hardline Islamic teachings known as Wahabbism
Now however they face a potential backlash from the very doctrine they have helped create, with hardline Islamists decrying what they see as corruption in the royal families of the Gulf states.
Last week Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called for attacks against the rulers of Saudi Arabia, saying his self-declared caliphate was expanding there and in four other Arab countries.
Baghdadi urged supporters in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, to take the fight to the rulers of the kingdom, which has joined the U.S.-led coalition in mounting air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria.
‘O sons of al-Haramayn…the serpent’s head and the stronghold of the disease are there…draw your swords and divorce life, because there should be no security for the Saloul,’ Baghdadi said, using a derogatory term to refer to the leadership of Saudi Arabia.
Haramayn is a reference to the two holiest places in Islam – both of them in Saudi Arabia. Direct donations are understood to be only a small part of the IS income stream now.
U.S. Treasury official David Cohen, who has investigated the group’s finances, last month estimated it was earning about $1million a day from black market oil sales alone.
It also generates cash from criminal enterprises such as extortion, bank robbery and kidnapping for ransom. Only a small amount of its funding is believed to come from outside donors.
Saudi defense minister Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz: Saudi Arabia is one of the countries taking part in military action as part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
Recalling his time as home secretary after the September 11 terror attacks on New York’s Twin Towers, Mr Blunkett said he had been surprised to learn that names which appeared on US sanctions lists, subjecting those suspected of funding terrorists to asset freezing and travel bans, did not feature on UK lists.
While Mr Blunkett welcomed David Cameron’s recent announcement on a Bill which would include powers to cancel the passports of UK nationals who travel abroad to fight for IS, he said preventing money reaching ‘our deadliest enemies’ is an even more important matter.
Mr Blunkett said: ‘Pressure needs to come not just from the UK and the US, but from all those nations committed to providing a stable and secure world in which trade can flourish, poverty can be reduced and freedom from fear can be secured.’