Report: UN Had Qatar Pay Off Al-Qaida Fighters for Release of Fiji Peacekeepers

Israeli Channel 2 airs footage purportedly showing transaction taking place near Syria-Israel border, claims $25 million were paid to Nusra Front despite UN denials.

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Haaretz
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Channel 2 video purportedly showing Nusra Front fighters near Syria-Israel border.
Channel 2 video purportedly showing Nusra Front fighters near Syria-Israel border.Credit: Screengrab from Channel 2 video
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Haaretz

The United Nations had Qatar pay $25 million to an Al-Qaida affiliated Syrian group to release 45 Fijian peacekeepers kidnapped on the Syrian Golan Heights, despite the UN's avowal not to pay ransom for hostages, Channel 2 reported on Friday.

According to the Israeli report, video footage shows the transaction between the UN and the Nusra Front taking place near the Israel-Syria border on September 11.

According to Channel 2, the video purports to show UN representatives crossing the border to Syria and waiting for the Nusra Front fighters, who later arrive in a convoy of white vehicles. The black-clad Syrian fighters can be purportedly be seen conversing with the UN mediator, all while Israeli army soldiers are eyeing the proceedings from across the border, weapons drawn.

A Nusra Front member, equipped with a laptop computer, is captured on the video footage presumably checking if the $25 million in Qatari money have been deposited. According to Channel 2, two hours go by before confirmation for the bank transaction arrives, and then, very quickly, the Nusra Front fighters drive away and the UN peacekeepers cross the border to the Israeli side.

At the time of the peacekeepers' release, a UN spokesman denied that any ransom was requested by the group and said that none was paid, Reuters reported. Qatar, one country in the Middle East thought by the United States to have influence with the Islamist militant group, said Fiji had formally requested its assistance in freeing the hostages.

Nusra Front convoy arrivingIsraeli soldiers watching from across the border Nusra Front fighters Man examines laptop, purportedly waiting for transaction confirmation UN mediator, wearing bullet proof vest and holding a cellphone Nusra Front convoy driving away Buses carrying freed peacekeepers into Israel

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