The former Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim has been caught at the center of yet another scandal, but this time around the charges pressed against him imply something more serious than “mere” corruption. The British court has recently opened a case against him for alleged torture of a British citizen. This information was leaked by a number of British media sources, including the prominent London newspaper The Guardian. According to this newspaper, Hamad bin Jassim attempted to evade prosecution by using his diplomatic immunity in an attempt to save his damaged reputation – the loss of which may have grave consequences for his business affairs. The only problem is, as far as international law is concerned, Hamad bin Jassim, even if he is in possession of a diplomatic passport, cannot use diplomatic immunity. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations explicitly specifies that only members of a diplomatic mission may employ diplomatic immunity. As for the possession of a diplomatic passport, it seems to be nothing more that a form of courtesy that Qatari officials showed to Hamad bin Jassim. Now everything depends on the British government, but it seems that Hamad bin Jassim is likely to buy his way out of these charges.
As far as the charges are concerned, The Guardian article states that they were brought forward by Fawaz al-Attiya – “a UK national born in London, claims that Qatari agents acting on behalf of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani falsely imprisoned him in Doha for 15 months and subjected him to conditions amounting to torture. Attiya claims he was kept in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and only let out in handcuffs to be interrogated.”
Back in 1997 Hamad bin Jassim pursued a deal that Fawaz al-Attiya was reluctant to sign due to the inadequately low price that the former Prime Minister wanted to pay for 20,000 square meters of land in west Doha. For this “offence” he was removed from the position of Qatar’s official spokesperson and detained, which allowed Hamad bin Jassim to steal the desired land.
The Guardian stresses the fact that the estimated personal fortune of the former emir is 12 billion dollars. He was forced to step down within a month of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani‘s decision to hand over power to his son. Without his patron, Hamad bin Jassim had no means of saving his position and now enjoys nothing but hatred and contempt in the Arab world. This hatred is provoked by the fact that he legitimized the power Hamad, when the latter staged a coup against his father. Many states in the Persian Gulf and the West, including the United States, were reluctant to accept such a ruthless and insolent revolution in violation of all expected political and legal norms. This is especially so if one is to consider the fact that the former emir satisfied pretty much everyone.
As for Hamad bin Jassim’s background, he is a relative of the former emir of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, yet he had no hope of claiming the position of emir since he was born by a Pakistani concubine. Yet, he made a breathtakingly successful career within the Qatari government, even without a proper education, due to the fact that he was particularly proficient in dealing with laundering the money stolen from the Qatar Investment Authority which he headed. The Authority paid 4 billion dollars for the acquisition of the prominent London department store Harrod, while 15% of this sum was handed back to the Emir Hamad bin Jassim himself. And this is but a single example, since there was an acquisition of the Brazilian branch of Spanish Santander bank that costed the Authority another 4 billion dollars followed by some half-legal investments in the sinking Greek economy. This was the reason why the former Emir kept him for so long in the government without allowing any form of prosecution regarding his many misdeeds.
The former Prime Minister is operating in London now, which is inconvenient since Britain and the United States have accumulated enough evidence against him to ensure that he won’t be working against the interests of London and Washington. That is why he’s particularly fond of the French, Italian, and Spanish markets.
Aside from his corruption, Hamad bin Jassim is particularly famous for instigating a wave of “color” revolutions in the Arab world. He is largely responsible for thousands of innocent people killed and maimed in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and in the ongoing war in Syria. There’s little doubt that he is capable of torturing a British citizen, since he issued the order to the airport police in Doha in November 2011 to brutally assault the then Russian Ambassador to Qatar Vladimir Titorenko, while damaging his diplomatic pouch. This was nothing but an act of revenge since Titorenko publicly denounced the wave of “color” revolutions in the Arab media which provoked much hatred against the sitting prime minister. At that time Moscow reserved taking any actions, limiting itself to a reduction in diplomatic relations with Qatar, but then returned them to normal shortly after this outrageous incident, and sent a new ambassador to Qatar without receiving any form of apology.
Perhaps Hamad bin Jassim will now get a taste of British justice. The question remains – what this Qatari criminal is up to this time if London is willing to publish news regarding such a scandal? Apparently, the traces of his wrongdoing are to be found somewhere in the Middle East, where blood is still spilled on the daily basis.
Vladimir Simonov, expert on the Middle East, Doctor of science (history), exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.