Asia-Pacific, Qatar, Politics

Qatar and Terrorism: How Terrorist Organisations Get Funded

On June 5th, 2017 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates abruptly cut off their diplomatic relations with the tiny oil-and gas-rich Gulf state of Qatar. They also gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave their territory and banned their citizens from traveling to or residing in Qatar.

This severing of diplomatic relations included withdrawing ambassadors and imposing a trade bloc. Egypt cut off its diplomatic relations with Qatar but never forced its citizens in Qatar to leave the state.

Qatar’s Role

Qatar has practiced and aspired to foreign policies with gulf countries, but a few things have angered them in recent years. One of them is Qatar’s support for terrorism. Qatar admits that it has provided financial help to the Muslim Brotherhood, but denies financing terrorist groups connected to al-Qaeda or Daesh.

The other reason is Iran’s relations with Qatar since they are sharing the world’s largest gas field. Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals due to Shia Muslims in Iran and Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia.

The main turning point of the Qatar situation was when the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, took credit for Saudi Arabia’s move against Qatar.

On June 6th, 2017 he said in a tweet:

And all of this is happening because of Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism. After the events of 9/11, terrorists were getting increasingly powerful. The primary matter at hand here seems to be the alleged funding of small and large terrorists groups. That’s why we take a look at how those groups are mainly funded or support themselves.

Funding Through Trade

Trade is one of the major sources that cover a significant part of funds and finances for terror groups. Many of those terrorist groups use the resources of occupied areas and sell these to get a significant amount of money which keeps them active.

The Daesh oil trade is maybe one of the major terror funding sources on this planet at the moment. The terrorist group has occupied a significant area of Iraq and Syria which is rich in oil, gas, and minerals. According to rough estimations, Daesh could earn more than $50 million a month from trading oil and gas.

Daesh has recruited mining experts and engineers from all over the world to get crude oil from the occupied oil fields in Iraq and Syria. Oil from these fields is sold to smugglers for as low as $10 per barrel, although Russian and American air strikes have played a vital role in the reduction of the drilling activity.

In the same way, Afghan terrorist organizations have used the opium trade as their financial source. During the Taliban rule, poppy fields, opium production, and opium trade reached its peak. According to the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), 93% of all the opium worldwide in 2017 originated from Afghanistan. This amounts to $4 billion in revenue in the country. In Africa, many terrorist organizations such as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and Al-Qaeda make a lot of money through illegal wildlife trafficking. A single rhinoceros horn can fetch up to $65,000, which is many times higher than the profit made from the opium and drug trade.

Terrorist groups heavily use this source of funding to buy the loyalty of organization’s workers. Ammunition, food and other living facilities are provided to their members using these funds.

Foreign Sponsorships

Some external funding is done by outside countries sponsoring terrorist organizations. These nations support terror groups and do facilitate terrorists with food and ammunition some times on a large scale. Some states choose small radical groups from a particular region, fund them and convert them to influential terrorist groups to achieve national or specific benefits.

An example would be the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the formation of the Taliban.

There is no doubt that the U.S did form, fund and raised the Taliban to fight against the Soviet Union. But things got worse once the country stepped back after achieving its purpose of breaking down the Soviet Union.

This was taken as a green signal for the Taliban, and they started to occupy big cities within the country. Eventually, a Taliban government was formed in Afghanistan, and the land was used for terror purposes, that are still targeting the whole world to this day. In the same way, Iran and Qatar are excessively blamed for supporting terrorist groups today.

Kidnapping and Illegal Taxes

Other than trade and foreign sponsorship, kidnapping and illegal taxes are other major sources of funding for many terrorist organizations. Daesh has been kidnapping people (mostly foreigners), who can pay good money. Kidnapped people are often physically and mentally tortured.

Illegal taxes or “protection money” is often collected in occupied areas as well. People get forced to pay money for protection. The money collected from these illegal taxes help groups to buy weapons and food to keep them operational.

It is estimated that Daesh alone has raised $45 million in just one year. The UN also revealed that terrorist organizations are estimated to earn $120 million in total ransom payments.


It is clear that using the above mentioned ways; terrorist organizations are making millions of dollars per month, which is more than enough to keep their terrorist activities operational. Suicide bombings, kidnappings, and killing have increased due to these financial supplies. We cannot blame a single state for supporting terrorist organizations. To root out terror, it is necessary for many countries to change their national priorities and policies. Otherwise, it will become the biggest social, moral and economic problem for everyone of planet Earth.