update deskOctober 7

Report raises questions about Qatar’s knowledge of Oct. 7 attack

Doha had a lot to gain from the Hamas assault on southern Israel, Western intelligence officers say.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha, Jan. 7, 2024. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha, Jan. 7, 2024. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Western intelligence officials interviewed by Politico in recent weeks say that Qatar, a longtime patron of Hamas in Gaza, may have had prior knowledge of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“We’re still looking into it,” a top intelligence official from a major European country told the U.S. news site when asked if Doha had advanced information about the mass assault. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, added that there was “smoke,” but no smoking gun.

Officials from the Arab Gulf state declined to comment on the article.

Other Western officials indicated that Doha had a lot to benefit from the Oct. 7 attack, principally in derailing U.S.-brokered normalization talks between its rival in Riyadh and Jerusalem.

“It is in Qatar’s interest to put obstacles in the way of the normalization process between Saudi and Israel,” one of the officials said. “Any refitting for the balance of power is going to undermine Qatar’s position as the top diplomatic player that can do everything.”

Qatar is under increasing scrutiny over its ties to the Hamas terrorist group as some U.S. lawmakers urge the Biden administration to toughen its approach to the Arab Gulf state, which recently inked a deal to extend the American military presence at Al Udeid Air Base, southwest of Doha, for another 10 years.

The leadership in Doha supports the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Islamist movement of which Hamas is a branch.

Doha has also played an important role in mediating hostage talks between Israel and Hamas, which resulted in over 100 captives being freed in November. Another hostage agreement is being discussed. The official number of hostages still being held by Hamas is 136, some of whom are believed to have been killed in captivity.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met in Doha on Jan. 6 with the families of Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A new Qatari ceasefire proposal would see all hostages held by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip freed in exchange for a complete withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces and safe passage for Hamas’s leadership out of the enclave.

The Israeli Security Cabinet met on Wednesday evening to discuss the proposal, under which Jerusalem would allow Hamas leaders to leave for exile in an unnamed country, Channel 13 News reported.

As part of the proposed agreement, the hostages would be freed in several stages, the report added.

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