Report: Qatar paid Nusra Front $25m ransom to free UN Golan hostages

The United Nations last month secured the release of 45 Fijian peacekeeping soldiers, kidnapped on the Syrian side of Golan Heights by the Nusra Front, through the payment of a $25 million ransom by Qatar, an Israeli TV report claimed.

The Fijian soldiers, members of UNDOF, were captured on August 28 by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, along the DMZ separating Israel and Syria. Their September 11 release, Israel’s Channel 2 said Friday, was obtained after Doha made the ransom payment.

The TV station broadcast footage taken by one of its camera crews from the Israeli side of the border which it said documented the September 11 meet between Nusra Front members and United Nations officials, held as the funds were transferred to a Nusra Front bank account. Once it was confirmed that the funds had been received, the Fijian peacekeepers were released, the report said.

Shortly after the incident, an Iranian news outlet accused Qatar of providing financial assistance to the Nusra Front, a charge Doha rejected. Iran backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime Al-Nusra and other rebels are battling to depose…

(Photo: Undated image, attached in a statement released on August 30, 2014, on the Hanin Network website, a militant website, shows Fijian UN peacekeepers who were seized by the Nusra Front on August 28, 2014. Credit: AP/Hanin Network Website, File)