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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

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
21 mins ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

27 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Wall Street bets it all on a vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's the time of year when Wall Street shops are rolling out predictions for where they see the stock market headed in the coming year. There's one common theme: Widespread distribution of a vaccine is the reason to be bullish.

Why it matters: Analysts say vaccines will help the economy heal, corporate profits rebound and stock market continue its upward trajectory.