Blacklisted Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists and their supporters are using loopholes in UN sanctions enforcement procedures to access bank accounts that are supposed to be frozen, it was reported last week, Natalie Goulet and Ghanem Nuseibeh wrote in the Arab News.
Among them are Khalifa Al-Subaiy, a Qatari banker who provided financial support to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He is withdrawing up to $10,000 at a time from his “frozen” account at Qatar National Bank, supposedly for essential living expenses, and continues to finance terrorism.
Affording banking facilities to such an individual is a collective failure of all those involved. The UN’s ability to enforce its own sanctions is very much under the spotlight, and Qatar needs to explain to the world why it has allowed him to operate a bank account, as does the bank that provided the facilities.
Opening bank accounts has become a tedious endeavor for most of us.
Banks conduct strict due diligence to ensure they do not inadvertently become a vehicle for malicious financing. While the failure of states to enforce UN sanctions is something for the international community and international courts to deal with, banking regulators also need to act.
Qatar National Bank has branches around the world. It can only be assumed that through this extensive global banking network Al-Subaiy had access to those countries in which the bank operates. This not only makes a mockery of the UN, it also endangers global security. Banks should no longer be allowed to hide behind loopholes, particularly when it comes to terrorism financing.
It is impossible to assess the potential harm that has been caused by these failures without an extensive and transparent investigation.
First, the UN needs to investigate why loopholes in its own procedures allowed this breach.
Second, Qatar needs to explain to the international community why it has allowed an individual on the UN sanctions list to have banking facilities through its most global bank, and give reassurances that he and other terrorists are no longer afforded such facilities.
Third, Qatar National Bank needs to supply law enforcement authorities around the world, and particularly where the bank operates, with details of transactions carried out by Al-Subaiy, and give reassurances that others on the blacklist are not being afforded banking facilities.
Finally, banking regulators in countries where the bank operates should conduct their own investigations into why this failure happened, and take urgent remedial measures to ensure that any potential damage is mitigated and that no such breaches take place again.
There has been a clear collective failure of the sort that endangers global security. Such failures can cost lives.
Terror financing is the backbone of the ecosystem that allows terrorism to flourish. The world needs urgent assurances, not only that such failures will not happen again, but also that they will bring heavy consequences for those who turn a blind eye to our collective security as a human race.
Know about the writers
• Nathalie Goulet is a member of the Senate of France, representing the Orne department (Normandy).
• Ghanem Nuseibeh is founder of the strategy and management consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates in London.