Key US ally Qatar accused of backing IS terrorists

Key US ally Qatar accused of backing IS terrorists

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Israel has accused tiny, rich Qatar of being a resort for terrorists. (Source: FOX) Israel has accused tiny, rich Qatar of being a resort for terrorists. (Source: FOX)

(FOX) - The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar has long appeared to be a Western ally.

But is now firing back against accusations that it is actually supporting Islamic State (IS) terrorists.

One day after the government of Qatar helped secure the release of American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, reports emerged that IS issued a new multi-million dollar ransom demand in exchange for a female American aid worker taken hostage last year.

A few months back the small oil rich gulf country of Qatar - home to Al-Jazeera and one of the largest U.S. air bases in the Middle East - helped secure the release of American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five high level Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Taliban opened an embassy in Doha, Qatar, prior to the exchange.

On the one hand Qatar is a key U.S. ally.

On the other it is dogged by accusations that it is supporting Islamist militants in Libya, Gaza and Syria.

"Qatar is increasingly playing a double game. One of the reasons we don't call them out is, number one because we need them in the short term, even if in the long term they burn us," said Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute.

Qatar helped encourage the truce announced on Tuesday between Hamas and Israel, but it also allows the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, to live in Qatar.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations has accused Qatar of being a club med for terrorists.

"It is time for the world to wake up and smell the gas fumes. Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society. Yet at its core, the micro monarchy is aggressively financing radical Islamist movements," said Ron Proser, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. 

In July the Pentagon authorized an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar and U.S. Central Command uses Qatar as its main base of operations in the Middle East.

"We want to continue to broaden that military-to-military relationship, and that's our focus, is on the military relationship," said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary.

Qatar's support for Libya's Islamist factions forced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to go it alone twice in the past week, carrying out airstrikes against Libyan factions, surprising U.S. officials.

"We do believe there were airstrikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt inside Libya," Kirby said.

It took several days for U.S. intelligence analysts to figure out who carried out the airstrikes in Libya. America's ally Qatar was reportedly funneling millions of dollars in support of Libya's radical Islamic factions.

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