Overview:  The United States and Qatar continued to increase counterterrorism (CT) cooperation, building on progress made after the U.S. Secretary of State and the Qatari foreign minister signed a counterterrorism MOU in 2017.  During the November U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue’s Counterterrorism Session, the two governments reviewed the significant progress made on CT cooperation and committed to maintaining ongoing momentum.  Qatar facilitated U.S. military operations in the region and hosts roughly 6,500 U.S. servicemembers at military installations critical to Defeat-ISIS efforts.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no reported terrorist incidents in Qatar in 2022.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There were no significant changes in counterterrorism legislation.

Qatar maintains an interagency National Counterterrorism Committee (NCTC) with representatives from more than 10 government agencies.  The NCTC formulates Qatar’s CT policy, ensuring interagency coordination, fulfilling Qatar’s CT-related obligations under international legal instruments, and participating in multilateral conferences on terrorism.  U.S. officials regularly met with the NCTC chairman to discuss overall counterterrorism cooperation.  The Qatar State Security Bureau (SSB) maintained an aggressive posture toward monitoring internal terrorism-related activities.  The Ministry of Interior and the Internal Security Force (ISF) continued to participate in structured CT training and exercises, including with U.S. agencies.

Qatar and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed security arrangements in July to further cooperation to counter smuggling, detect fraudulent documents, and enhance border security, including a memorandum of cooperation establishing a Joint Security Program to identify air passengers linked to terrorism and trafficking of narcotics, weapons, currency, and humans.  The memorandum also reaffirmed the decision to implement a visa validation program to detect fraudulent visas.  The two parties also committed to collaborate to counter threats from unmanned aircraft systems.  The United States and Qatar continued to partner on terrorist screening and aviation security.  Ministry of Interior authorities cooperated with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, and Homeland Security Investigations to screen the nearly 40 million travelers who transit Hamad International Airport, in capital Doha, annually.

U.S. technical assistance to Qatari law enforcement and judicial agencies increased during 2022.  The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), State, and the Treasury, as well as the FBI, led or participated in several capacity building initiatives involving the Ministry of Interior, the ISF, the SSB, the Public Prosecution, the Central Bank, and other Qatari agencies.  A DOJ resident legal advisor has been stationed in Qatar since 2018, providing technical assistance to Qatar’s CT efforts and building prosecutorial capacity.

U.S. Central Command and Embassy Doha participated in six Joint Operational Planning Groups with the Government of Qatar and partner nations focused on mitigating the threat of terrorism during Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Men’s World Cup, culminating in the October “Watan 22” security field exercise observed by Department of Defense personnel from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Embassy Doha and with the participation of two Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear companies and Task Force 51-5, all under CENTCOM’s operational control.  Watan 22 involved a set of on-the-ground scenarios simulating a set of plans and assumptions that required activating emergency plans to meet various organizational and security needs in the event of a terrorist attack.  CENTCOM also provided intelligence support in preparation for and during the World Cup, to include the Combined Air Operation Center and the Air Defense Operations Center (both located at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base) and personnel to man a Joint Task Force Operations Center and an Open-Source Center (both located at the embassy).

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Qatar is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, and its FIU, the Qatar Financial Information Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group.  Qatar is also a member of the regional Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC).

In collaboration with other TFTC member states, Qatar in June sanctioned 16 individuals, entities, and groups affiliated with a variety of regional terrorist organizations, including IRGC-QF, ISIS, and Boko Haram.

In 2022, Qatar maintained restrictions, imposed in 2017, on the overseas activities of Qatari charities, requiring all such activity to be conducted through one of four approved charities — to enhance accountability, transparency, and protect charitable giving from terrorist financing abuse.

Countering Violent Extremism:  Qatar’s primary CVE strategy remained investment in education, sports diplomacy, and increasing economic opportunities for youth around the globe, largely through the Qatar Foundation and related organizations, such as Silatech and Education Above All (non-profit organizations that receive government funding).  Since 2020, Qatar has hosted the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism’s (UNOCT’s) first International Hub on Behavioral Insights to Counter Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, to better understand the underlying roots of violent extremism and determine the best use of sports as a CVE tool.  Qatar has made strides in addressing state-sourced internal support for educational and religious content espousing intolerance, discrimination, sectarianism, and violence.

Qatar is a major funder of the GCERF and sits on its Governing Board of Directors.  The Qatar Fund for Development supported GCERF’s efforts to build awareness among community leaders about the impact of terrorist radicalization and recruitment, to share information on how to respond to terrorism, to promote peace through community engagement activities, and to provide educational initiatives.

Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) supported English-language programming in MEHE schools to counter terrorist influence and messaging.  The MEHE undersecretary, who also serves as chairman of the semigovernmental Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, consulted with the Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom on revisions to Qatar’s Islamic studies public school textbooks, to increase understanding of religious pluralism and tolerance.  However, recommendations from the Office of International Religious Freedom were not implemented.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Qatar is an active participant in the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League.  Qatar is also a member of the GCTF and the TFTC.  Since June 2021, Qatar has hosted the UNOCT Program Office on Parliamentary Engagement, which seeks to strengthen the contributions, coordination, and capacity of parliaments at national, regional, and global levels to enhance international efforts against terrorism.

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