Qatari activist ‘targeted’ for exposing US drone strikes

December 24, 2013 - 3:26:09 am

DOHA: A prominent Geneva-based Qatari human rights activist who has been accused by the US Treasury Department of financing Al Qaeda has rubbished the allegations and said they were totally baseless.

Abdul Rahman bin Umair Al Nuaimi (pictured) told The Peninsula yesterday that on the contrary media organs of some Al Qaeda affiliates have been dubbing him as an agent of the west and a backer of Arab regimes.

“I have never ever met an Al Qaeda operative or leader,” Al Nuaimi said on the phone.

He is one of the two men listed (the other being a Yemeni national) as global terrorists by the US Treasury Department last Wednesday.

He has been accused of providing money and material support and having communication with Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. “The fact is that I have never set foot on the soil of Iraq or Syria. Yes, I have been to Yemen but that was in connection with my work (of documenting human rights violations),” Al Nuaimi said.

He earlier told a news conference the US Treasury Department might have targeted him because his Geneva-based human rights organisation, Alkarama, has extensively documented drone attacks in Yemen in which so many innocent civilians have been killed.

“My organisation even once honoured a journalist, Abdul Ilah Shaya, for exposing the extent of killings of innocent civilians in drone attacks in Yemen.”

Asked about the death toll so far in the drone attacks, he told The Peninsula he couldn’t cite a figure offhand. “But I remember that in one attack, for example, 45 civilians were killed, in another some 25 people, and still another drone attack claimed a dozen lives.”

Drone attacks mainly target marriage parties and family get-togethers, he said.

“My Geneva-based organisation has also documented the killings by the state security forces in Egypt after the military takeover. The toll is over a 1,000.”

Asked why he chose Geneva, and not an Arab city, as the venue to set up his human rights organisation, Al Nuaimi said Arab countries do not provide licence to such human rights organisations. “I got the licence in Geneva. Plus, the fact remains that it is a good place to work for human rights since there are a lot of UN and other international organisations.”

“Geneva provides a very good work environment to document human rights violations.”

His organisation Alkarama, he said, documents human rights violations in the Arab world. Al Nuaimi also heads an Arab Studies Centre in Doha. It specialises in studying social and political affairs in the Arab world and has published several booklets. He said the listing by the US Treasury Department is an administrative decision, and not a judicial one, and can thus be revoked.

“Our lawyers in the US are already working on it, and I have also requested the Qatari government for support.”

He said at the news briefing that allegations that he acted as a middleman between donors in Doha and Al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq, Somalia and Syria were entirely baseless.

“Donations for social causes are collected by authorized charitable bodies in Qatar and those collections are in the knowledge of the Qatari government.”

About allegations that he provided $250,000 to Somalia’s Al Shabab, he said his Arab Studies Centre once held a meeting for a political dialogue to help end the Somali crisis. “At the time the US government was actively involved with the Somali government and its representatives actually attended this meeting.”

Asked if he feared arrest when he travelled abroad, Al Nuaimi said the possibility could not be ruled out. “But as long as I am in Doha, our government here will protect me. I feel safe here,” he said in remarks to this newspaper.

The Peninsula

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