Germany's development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, has accused Qatar of channeling funds to finance the Islamic State, the extremist jihadi group operating in Syria and Iraq.
"A story like this always has a history," Mueller said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. "Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar," AFP reported Wednesday.
Qatar is known to channel funds to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as granting shelter to Khaled Meshal and other Hamas leaders, who left their longtime headquarters in Syria in 2012 because of the brutal civil war there.
Earlier this week, Germany's Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for a "debate" over who is backing the Islamic State, which has conquered large swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, massacring opponents and those it considers infidels.
In June, Iraq accused Saudi Arabia of funding the Sunni militants and of facilitating genocide at their hands. The Saudi government rejected the accusation in a statement, describing the claim as a "malicious falsehood." On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's top cleric said that extremism and the ideologies of groups like the Islamic State and Al-Qaida are Islam's no. 1 enemy, and that Muslims have been their first victims.
Also on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced that Germany is prepared to arm Kurdish fighters battling the Sunni militants in northern Iraq. He said Germany would closely coordinate its efforts with France, Britain and other European countries who are already delivering weapons to the Kurds.
The announcement followed intense domestic and international pressure for the German government to provide more than humanitarian assistance to those fighting the Islamic State.
Sending weapons would be a significant step for Germany, which traditionally has shied away from such moves. Steinmeier said the decision was taken in light of the fact that a collapse of Kurdish defenses could precipitate a wider catastrophe in Iraq that would directly affect Europe.
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