Updated Apr 28, 2018

Report: Qatar paid terrorist sponsors millions to retrieve hostages

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Than. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Qatari officials paid at least $275 million to get back hostages being held by Iraqi kidnappers, and an additional $150 million to "intermediaries," which the U.S. has designated as sponsors of international terrorism, the Washington Post's Joby Warrick reports.

Why it matters: Warrick writes that Qatar has "consistently denied reports that it paid terrorist organizations as part of the deal," but records obtained by the Post paint a different picture. President Trump spoke about how Qatar has stopped its funding of terrorism when Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited the White House earlier this month.

The details: Text messages and other records obtained by the Post reveal millions of dollars being set aside for, and paid to, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a Kata'ib Hezbollah boss, and Iranian and Iraqi officials.

  • Per WaPo, a senior Middle Eastern official said "the sums mentioned in the texts referred to proposals that were floated by negotiators but ultimately rejected."

Read the full Washington Post report here.

Go deeper

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

A combine in Rippey, Iowa harvests soybeans in October 2019. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. U.S. soybean stockpiles expected to drop as exports rebound, USDA says
  2. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  3. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins
  4. Reports: Facebook offers up to $5 for voice recordings
  5. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps