London’s Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the European Union with 70 million passengers passing through its corridors. It is busier than France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport and Spain’s Madrid-Barajas Airport. It has more than three times the traffic of New York’s JFK Airport and receives flights from around the world. Heathrow’s operator, BAA Limited operates multiple airports in the UK, including two in London and two in Scotland. And the Qatari monarchy has just bought a fifth of BAA.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11, was a former employee of the Qatari government. Mohammed had coordinated a mass air bombing plot with his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, who had been behind the original World Trade Center attack, and had wired him money from Qatar for the World Trade Center bombing.
The 9/11 Commission Report states that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was able to evade capture after the World Trade Center bombing due to the intervention of a prominent Qatari official, widely believed to be Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, and the Minister for Islamic Affairs at the time. Presently Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani is Qatar’s Minister of the Interior.
By aiding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Al-Thani allowed him to continue plotting attacks against the United States and that led directly to September 11. It was Sheikh Al-Thani who had encouraged Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to move from Pakistan to Qatar. And from Qatar, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was able to engage in terrorist plots while officially working for the Qatari government.
Qatari links to Al-Qaeda have been one of the worst kept secrets in the region. Members of the Al-Thani royal family have aided Al-Qaeda and there are reports that Jihadists even had their own training camp in Qatar. A report by a former intelligence officer stated that Bin Laden was hosted by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani before the Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans.
The Qatari government has reportedly been sending millions of dollars to Al-Qaeda every year and Wikileaks cables from the US embassy in Doha, the Qatari capital, revealed that US officials knew of a Qatari link to September 11 and described Qatar as the “worst” on regional counterterrorism—which is a truly horrible assessment when you consider that Qatar was being compared to the likes of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Al-Jazeera, the Al-Thani clan’s pet propaganda network, has been the destination of choice for Bin Laden videos. Bin Laden’s first statement, five days after September 11, was broadcast by Al-Jazeera, indicating a fairly quick turnaround time. The Bin Laden tapes gave Al-Jazeera a great deal of prominence even as the network was overseen by Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Information.
In light of all that, Qatar’s buy of a fifth of BAA which controls six airports and which formerly managed four American airports, including Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Logan International Airport, which was the departure point of choice for two of the 9/11 planes, giving it extensive inside knowledge of their operations, is extremely troubling. Qatar does not yet have a majority stake, but it has bought a sizable portion of the majority shareholder’s stake in BAA, which, if previous patterns hold, it will likely expand on.
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