Top US officials say the Gulf is a hub of private terrorist fund-raising while the region’s banking infrastructure offers the potential for money laundering and access to the international financial system.

The US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, said “we have made no secret over the years of our concerns with financing for terrorist organisations coming out of the Gulf. We have made some significant progress in the Gulf but obviously there is more work to be done.”

Kuwait and Qatar
Washington’s focus on efforts to stem terrorist financing from the Gulf is likely to centre on Kuwait and Qatar, which Cohen said have “more work to do” compared with the other Gulf countries on enforcing counter-terrorist finance laws.

To crackdown on terrorist financing channels in the Gulf, the US has recently established a joint task force with the UAE, details of which are scarce since intelligence matters are central to its operations.

Change of tack
The choice of the UAE as a partner in its efforts to crackdown on terrorist financing is a departure for Washington, whose officials in the Gulf have previously worked in a Saudi-based task force established in 2003.

Cohen has singled out Kuwait and Qatar for not charging and arresting under existing laws Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Jabhat Al Nusra financiers who have had US and UN sanctions imposed on them.