Iraqi President says Qatari ransom money became for Iraqis

The president of the Republic Fuad Masum

( Iraqi President Fouad Masum has disclosed that the Qatari money sent to the Shia-led paramilitary troops in return for the release of Qatari sailors were kept at the central Bank, being an ownership for Iraqis.

In an interview published on Wednesday in the Saudi Okaz newspaper, Masum said “The Qatari amount of US$500 million, which entered Iraq without his knowledge to release the Qatari sailors, has been at the central bank and will be for Iraq.”

Including members of the country’s ruling royal family, the 26 Qataris were abducted by militiamen during a hunting trip in south of Iraq in 2015. They were released in April.

In May, the Saudi newspaper quoted Iraqi anonymous sources as saying that Qatari Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who met with Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad, had asked to transfer US$500 million, originally meant as ransom payment for the hunters’ release, as a “gift” to al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units).

However, The Shia-led paramilitary troops has declared refusal to be dragged into conflicts between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi previously disclosed confiscating a huge amounts of money that entered Iraq illegally in possession of a high-profile Qatari delegation which arrived in Iraq to follow up on the release of the kidnapped ones. However, Doha said the money entered with the government’s knowledge.

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