The New York Times obtained an audio recording of a telephone call between the Qatari ambassador to Somalia and a businessman who is close to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani that reveals Doha’s complicity in terrorist bombings in the African country.
The businessman, Khalifa Kayed al-Muhanadi told Qatari Ambassador Hassan bin Hamza Hashem that the militants had carried out a bombing in the port city of Bosaso in northern Somalia, to advance Qatar’s interests by driving out its rival, the United Arab Emirates.
In May, a car bomb went off in front of a government building in Bosaso.
“The bombings and killings, we know who are behind them,” al-Muhanadi, said in the call on May 18, about a week after the bombing.
The violence was “intended to make Dubai people run away from there,” he said. “Let them kick out the Emiratis, so they don’t renew the contracts with them and I will bring the contract here to Doha.”
“Our friends were behind the last bombings,” he remarked.
The attack, which was claimed by an ISIS affiliate, left eight people wounded.
Asked about the cellphone conversation, neither al-Muhanadi nor the government of Qatar disputed the authenticity of the recording, but both said that he was speaking as a private citizen and was not a government official.
However in the recording of the phone call, which was made by a foreign intelligence agency opposed to Qatar’s foreign policies, the ambassador expressed no protest or displeasure at the idea that Qataris had played a role in the bombings.
“So that’s why they are having attacks there, to make them run away,” Hashem replied.
Al-Muhanadi is known to be close to the Emir of Qatar. There are photographs of the two of them together and, according to news reports and text messages provided by the intelligence agency, al-Muhanadi frequently travels with the emir.
In a brief telephone interview with The New York Times, the ambassador denied knowing al-Muhanadi and quickly hung up.
In a separate telephone interview, al-Muhanadi said that he was only a “school friend” of the ambassador’s. “I am a retired man and a trader,” he said. “I do not represent any government.”
Asked why he had described the Bosaso attackers as “friends,” al-Muhanadi said, “All Somalis are my friends.”
If the Bosaso bombing was intended to drive away the Emiratis, it was not the first attack there directed at them.
In February, two assailants disguised as fishermen shot and killed the manager for an Emirati company involved in running the port. The company, P&O Ports, said that three other employees were wounded.
A Sharq Al Awsat