Citizens of any Democracy consider members of their governments as employees that can be appointed, fired and or reassigned to entirely different positions. This is not always the case, especially within the Middle East.
Aside from Israel, the ONLY Democracy in the Middle East, countries in the region are governed by either royals or in many instances, dictators. This reality influences the theme of a government and impacts society. It becomes an atmosphere of “who knows who.” If you have a matching family name as a minister in office, then it would take an extremely brave police officer to issue you with a fine after pulling you over for speeding, or a sincerely honest judge to find you guilty for almost any crime.
In that world, not only is the ruler untouchable, but so are his family members, their friends, their neighbors and the cousins, friends, neighbors of his least important employee. They are all untouchable. If you are the Emir’s chef or driver, then your entire social circle automatically becomes untouchable. These are not simply jobs. These are positions earned as a result of blind loyalty to the figure in power. Such loyalty is rewarded with being able to get away with just about anything, while protecting your dear ones on the way.
Now, imagine being the most trusted man the ruler’s mother can think of. Such a person not only becomes untouchable, in such a world, they become almost as powerful as the ruler himself. Furthermore, imagine this person also being the cousin of the ruler’s mother. Based on tribal norms, the ruler would be forced to refer to him as “uncle.”
This is who Mohammed Al-Masned is. The untouchable cousin of Sheikha Moza al Masned, the mother of the Emir of Qatar: Tamim Bin hamad, and whom he refers to as “Uncle”.
His Appointment in Brief
In order for Sheikha Moza Al-Masned to protect her son’s reign from internal rivals or opposition, she assigned her most trusted cousin, Mohammed Al-Masned, as the chief of Qatar’s intelligence services.
On the 17th of December 2017, pro-Qatari Government newspaper, Al-Sharq, made an announcement stating that “His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, today issued the Emiri Order No. 7 of 2017, appointing His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Masned as Secretary of the Emir for Security Affairs.” – Making Al-Masned the Chief intelligence officer within the Royal house as well as the entire country.
The Luxury of Living Invisible (Almost)
Operating while being totally invisible has been an important goal for Al-Masned, to the extent that the citizens of Qatar and many government officials don’t know what he looks like. Until recently, a picture of Al-Masned could never be found, not online, not on any government database, nowhere.
A recent NYT article uncovers either Al-Masned’s incompetence as Chief of Qatar’s Intelligence Services or his intentional negligence of Qatari associates to the Emir of Qatar conducting terrorist attacks around the world. The article states:
In an audio recording obtained by The New York Times of a cellphone call with the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, a businessman close to the emir of Qatar said that the militants had carried out the bombing in Bosaso to advance Qatar’s interests by driving out its rival, the United Arab Emirates.
“The bombings and killings, we know who are behind them,” the businessman, Khalifa Kayed 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, referring to the Emirates’ financial capital. “Let them kick out the Emiratis, so they don’t renew the contracts with them and I will bring the contract here to Doha,” the capital of Qatar.
In April this year, the Qatari Embassy in Georgia published pictures of Al-Masned in one of his meetings. The pictures were then removed from the English website, but are still available on the Embassy’s Arabic website.
His Duty: Manipulating American Politics
According to a recent piece by Dr. Oren Litwin, an expert on Islamist groups and comparative politics, “Al-Masnad is a Qatari spymaster, and one of his chief duties is to manipulate American politics.”
Dr. Litwin went on to report that:
“The Qatari spymaster claimed that he controlled a vast bribery operation targeting public figures. Al-Masnad boasted, “No Western reporter or politicians would receive a dollar without my green light.”
And according to his assessment: “The Qatari influence operation in the West is becoming more widely understood, but the idea that Qatar is actively intervening in our politics is alarming. As a country, we depend on our elected officials to uphold American interests first and foremost. If there is any danger of corruption at the highest levels of government, our law-enforcement officials need to expose it to the sunlight and protect the integrity of American politics. And if credible evidence is found, the perpetrators need to be prosecuted.”
Avoiding a U.S. Subpoena in a ‘Order-to-kill’ operation
In July 2019, a US Federal lawsuit was filed against the brother of the Emir of Qatar, Khalid al-Thani, over his attempt to enlist his American security staffer to murder two people and hold another American captive.
The US attorney representing the Qatari Sheikh’s victims, Rebecca Castaneda, filed for subpoenas against The Qatari Ambassador to Washington DC, Qatar’s Chief of Intelligence Mohammad al-Masned and Abdullah Al-Athbah. All three avoided the subpoenas.
Al-Masnad discussed the allegations against Khalid Al-Thani with Qatari associates and stated that they were all accurate. Yet he still avoided the U.S subpoena. Being a Middle Easterner myself, I assume this might be because the lawyer is a woman, and the shame of being questioned by a woman would be unbearable for Bedouin Arabs that have – thanks to all the oil – become Royals.
The question worth asking here is, are such individuals still allowed to obtain a visa to enter Western countries for travel and tourism? Perhaps Al-Masnad’s way of avoiding any future obstacles is minor changes in the spelling of his name that would allow him to go unnoticed. According to another detailed report, his name is also spelled in English as ‘Al-Misned’ ‘Al-Misned’ or ‘Al-Misnad’.