Group warns of Qatar investment backlash if terror link is uncovered

Empire State Building
Empire State Building
Qatar’s global investments in real estate, including in the United States, could become toxic should evidence emerge that the country delivered clandestine support to ISIS, according to an activist group that says links to militants should be closely investigated.

The Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s state-run sovereign wealth fund, has aggressively pursued worldwide real estate investment opportunities, including paying $622 million for 10 percent of the company that owns the Empire State Building and other Manhattan properties.

This move into real estate, in the United States and elsewhere, suggests that Qatar is looking at long-term, stable investments at a time when interest rates are low, William Palumbo, of the Qatar Awareness Campaign, told the Gulf News Journal.

The Qatar Awareness Group is a grassroots organization that argues that Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, is committed to the spread of the deeply conservative Salafi brand of Sunni Islam, and that it has supported militant groups in Syria.

A leaked email, part of a cache sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, also reveals a national concern over the country’s possible links to ISIS.
The 2014 email, sent by Clinton, the former secretary of state, quotes information based on Western intelligence and Middle East sources.

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” the email states.

Reports of that email, published in the final days of the US presidential election campaign, failed to receive wide attention, said Palumbo, who argues that proof of terrorist ties would be disastrous for Qatar and its Western interests.

“Look at it this way: If it is a passive interest, such as the 10 percent in the Empire State Building, you might not be concerned,” he said. “That is until its gets a majority interest. Look, more generally, at Brexit, at Trump, nationalism across Europe, where people want investments under domestic control."

Palumbo said that besides properties in the United States, Qatar own an entire quarter in London, an interest in the famous department store Harrods, and some of the most expensive real estate in the city -- and therefore the world.

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund also recently agreed to buy BlackRock’s Asia Square Tower 1 for $2.5 billion, the biggest office transaction in Singapore's history.