December 22, 2023 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1734

'Project Raven' – The Origin Of The Qatari Government Letters Leak

December 22, 2023 | By Yigal Carmon*
Qatar, Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1734


In January 2019, Reuters uncovered information about Project Raven, a wide-ranging cyber offensive operation carried out by former NSA agents on behalf of the UAE. They gathered huge amounts of documents concerning several targets, including activists, journalists, and foreign government entities in a few countries, such as Turkey, France, Yemen, Iran, Qatar, Lebanon, and Israel. The leaked documents revealed extensive political interference by Qatar in the affairs in the Arab and Muslim world, with the goal of toppling secular regimes (as in Libya and Mali),[1] as well as strengthening Islamist terrorist organizations and movements. The documents also reveal the interference of Qatar in the affairs of other countries, such as France, South Africa, Lebanon, and Israel, by means of significant grants to government elements, political activists, human rights organizations, and sports figures.

Among other things, it uncovered the extent of the Qatari system of payments to politicians and influential public figures from different countries. Among the many figures revealed in these documents were some about whom documents were leaked to media. These were: Nicolas Sarkozy,[2] Carla Bruni, Thabo Mbeki, Human Rights Watch, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Walid Jumblatt, Michel Francois Platini, Lamine Diack, and Islamist militias in northern Mali,[3] as well as Israeli political figures.


International Media Exposure Of Project Raven:

Reports about Project Raven appeared in international media in American, British, French, German and Israeli newspapers.

The main exposure was by Reuters, which broke this story in 2019 in a comprehensive report in three parts (later it published four additional reports).

Special Report: Inside the UAE's secret hacking team of U.S. mercenaries.

UAE used cyber super-weapon to spy on iPhones of foes.,are%20proliferating%20beyond%20the%20world's

White House veterans helped Gulf monarchy build secret surveillance unit.

American hackers helped UAE spy on Al Jazeera Chairman, BBC host.

Ex-U.S. intel operatives admit hacking American networks for UAE.

Ex-U.S. intel operatives who worked for UAE barred from arms exports, State Dept says.

U.S. State Department concludes settlements with ex-U.S intel operatives who worked with UAE.

The Washington Post: Three former U.S. intelligence operatives admit to working as 'hackers-for-hire' for UAE.

The New York Times: It Seemed Like a Popular Chat App. It's Secretly a Spy Tool.

The New York Times: Mohammed bin Zayed's Dark Vision of the Middle East's Future.

Vice: U.S. Company Sold Zero-Click Hacking Tool to UAE Spy Operation.

The Intercept: Team of American Hackers and Emirati spies discussed attacking the Intercept.

The Times of London: Ex-American spies 'helped UAE with mass phone-hack of rivals'.

The Independent: US spies helped UAE to monitor BBC journalist and other media figures, investigation finds.

The Guardian: Saudi women's rights activist sues three ex-US intel operatives over hacking for UAE.

La Croix: Au Émirats Arabes Unis, le Project Raven espionne des citoyens américains.

Der Spiegel: Im Schatten der Show.

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Wie Saudi-Arabien Hacking als Machtmittel nutzt.

Haaretz: In Hebrew:

Ynet: In Hebrew:



The Leaking Of Qatari Documents To The Media:

Some of the Qatar documents were leaked to the media by two French journalists and investigators:

1. Bernard Nicolas, who published them on a French news website, Blast is an information website and web TV launched by anti-corruption investigative journalist Denis Robert and founded in January 2021.

Its YouTube channel has 917,000 subscribers:

Blast's X handle has 139,700 followers.


Major French media cited Blast's reports:

2. Marc Eichinger is an investigative writer who was formerly connected to French intelligence. In his book "Jeux de guerre" (Editions Massot 2022), he directs readers to the leaked documents on a website called

The Ekurd Daily (Kurd Net group) covers Kurdish affairs and was founded 25 years ago.

A Stanford University study cited a number of Ekurd reports on the Islamist Movement of Kurdistan.

3. Another source of leaked Qatari documents might have been UAE princess, Hind al-Qassemi of Sharja, who was in a divorce battle with her Qatari husband, Prince Abdullah Saud Jassim Aal Thani, who worked in the office of the Emir of Qatar. She is rumored to have seized some of his documents detailing Qatar's illegal activities to use in her battle for the custody of their son.

The Washington Post reported that Rudolph Guiliani dealt with Hind al-Qassemi. According to this report, al-Qassemi met with Guiliani at Trump's hotel in Washington.


The Use Of The Qatari Leaked Documents In Legal Proceedings:

Bernard-Henri Lévy (BHL) sued the website for defamation in an article published by Blast which contains leaked Project Raven documents about him, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Michel Platini and son Laurent Platini, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). (See article:

BHL did not sue Blast over the specific letter published by Blast, in which Qatari minister of economy and finance, Youssef Hussein Kamal, instructed Ahmed Ali Boukshisha, director of the accounting department and treasury, to issue 40 million Qatari Rial from the Qatar National Bank to BHL as quickly as possible. (See letter in Arabic below).

BHL lost the lawsuit in September 2021 and was ordered to pay 3,000 euros in court costs to Denis Robert and Blast. He appealed the initial verdict against him and lost again. BHL was ordered to pay an additional 3,000 euros in court costs to Denis Robert and Blast. (See his appeal verdict )

In his initial lawsuit and in his appeal, BHL did not claim that the Raven documents were a forgery. He only claimed the article defamed him.

To read the verdict of the initial lawsuit, see Appendix.

Below is the leaked Qatari letter concerning Bernard-Henri Lévy:


The Israel Angle:

Five Raven Project leaked documents published by Blast relate to Israeli public figures. They were all correspondence termed as secret between the heads of the Qatari regime. Three are from 2012, mentioning an alleged $15 million grant to Benjamin Netanyahu and an alleged $5 million grant to Avigdor Lieberman (for the Likud-Beiteinu bloc), in their upcoming election campaign. The other two letters are from 2018 regarding an alleged $50 million grant to Benjamin Netanyahu for the same purpose. See below the documents plus translation.

Note: According to Marc Eichinger, the Israel-related documents along with a picture of his passport were submitted to then-Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland Mrs. Ifat Reshef, in February 2021. Mr. Eichinger is prepared to testify in court.



Secret and urgent

To His Highness / Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Aal Thani

President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Emir's Cabinet


I am referring to Your Highness's letter number MRWS /2012/55/01/2165 dated 11/18/2012, based on the esteemed directions of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Aal Thani, Emir of the country [Qatar] in his letter number DA-1127-2012, regarding providing supportive financial grants to the Likud bloc and [Israel] Beiteinu out of which an amount of $15 million dollars to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, head of Likud party and a sum of $5 million US dollars to Mr. Avigdor Liberman, head of Israel Beiteinu party, as participation in supporting in the upcoming election campaign of both, that in accordance with Your Highness's direction to withdraw these two supportive money allocations and providing it in cash to the state security service.

I would like to inform Your Highness that on the basis of Your Highness's directives this has been executed and the sum has been delivered in $20 million US dollars to the state security service represented Sheikh Jassim bin Fahd bin Jassim Aal Thani, in accordance with the authorization letter that was issued by the state security service.

Please accept with great respect.

Yousef Husain Kamal

Minister of Finance and Economy



Central Bank of Qatar


Date: 11/21/2012

Number A.H /4619/2012

To his Excellency Yousef Husain Kamal

Minister of Economy and Finance


We are pleased to inform your excellency that, on the basis of your request, a cash amount of $20,000,000 US dollars was given to the state security service represented by Sheikh Jassim Bin Fahd Bin Jassim Aal Thani, in accordance with the letter of authorization issued by the state security service.

We would also like to draw Your Highness's attention that the level of foreign currency reserves at the state treasury is stable and the state treasury should keep it like that at the Central Bank in order to guarantee the continuity of its stability.

Please accept our sincere thanks;

Abdullah Bin Saud Aal Thani

Governor of the Central Bank



Office of the Prime Minister  

His Excellency the Prime Minister

Date: 05/01/1434 year Islamic Hijra

Equivalent to 11/18/2012 Christian year (Barcode)


To His Excellency the Minister of Economy and Finance

Ministry of Economy and Finance - Doha


In accordance with the High Directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Aal Thani, Emir of Qatar, in his letter number DA-2012-1127 to provide two money supports to the Likud-Beiteinu [parties], including an amount of $15 million US dollars to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud party and $5 million US dollars to Mr. Avigdor Liberman, head of the Israel Beiteinu party as a participation in supporting the upcoming election campaigns of both.

On the basis of the above it is requested to withdraw the amount of both money supportive grants to be given in cash to the state security service.

This is for the record and for quick execution.

Signature: Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Aal Thani

Prime Minister

A copy to the head of the state security service



Ministry of Finance, the office of the Minister


Secret and very urgent

To His Excellency Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Aal Thani

Head of the office of the Emir

The Emir's office



I have the pleasure of referring to the high directives of His Excellency Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Aal Thani, Emir of the country, in his letter number DA-1091-2018, dated 10/29/2018, regarding the withdrawing of quick money support to his excellency, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the head of the Likud party, in the amount of US $50 million (fifty million US dollars) as participation in support of the upcoming election campaign for the Likud in the Knesset. This amount should be delivered in cash to the state security service under the section of emergency supports.

I have the pleasure of informing Your Excellency that in implementation of the instructions of its highness, the Emir of the country, as referred in the above the amount has been given in cash at the level of $50 million US dollars to the state security service represented by His Excellency, Mr. Jassim Bin Rustum, on the basis of the authorization of the letter from the state security service. This was done from the special emergency fund and urgent grants taken from the Central Bank of Qatar.

I would kindly ask Your Excellency to present the above to His Esteemed Highness [Emir] for his attention and knowledge.

Kindly accept our greatest respect.

Ali Shareef Al Emadi

Minister of Finance



Central Bank of Qatar

Governor's Office


Date: 4/11/2018

A.KH.M number /2187/2018


To his Excellency Mr. Ali Shareef Al Emadi

Minister of Finance


We are pleased to inform Your Excellency that, in accordance with your request, the amount of $50,000,000 US dollars has been delivered in cash to the state security service represented by Mr. Jassim Bin Mohammed Rustum, in accordance with a referred letter of authorization issued by the state security service. We would also like to inform that the level of foreign currencies remained stable in the public treasury of the state, in order to keep the reserves of foreign currencies and in order to secure the continuity of the stability [of the reserves of foreign currencies].

Note: When a request exceeds 5 million either in Qatari riyals or in foreign currencies, we need no less than 48 hours to coordinate [the operation] with the relevant security services for the provision of the logistical support.

Please accept my greatest respect.

Abdullah Bin Saud Aal Thani



The following leaked Qatari documents were published by MEMRI:

Documents Reportedly Reveal 2010 Agreement Between Then French President Sarkozy And Then Qatari Crown Prince Tamim Bin Hamad, In Which Qatar Pledged To Pay Sarkozy 300 Million Euros.

The Raven Project Leaks: In 2016, During His Tenure As Qatari Ambassador To France, Mashal Bin Hamad Aal Thani, Now Qatari Ambassador To The U.S., Reportedly Bribed French Minister.

The Raven Project Leaks: Alleged Qatari Support Of 3 Million Euros For Human Rights Watch.

The Raven Project Leaks: Former South African President Reportedly Received $2 Million For Thabo Mbeki Institute In 2012.

The Raven Project Leaks: Qatar Reportedly Paid $10 Million To Lebanese Politician Walid Jumblatt In 2018.

The Raven Project Leaks: Qatar Reportedly Paid $15 Million To Islamist Movements In Northern Mali And The Sahel In 2011.

The Raven Project Leaks: Qatar Reportedly Ordered Payment Of Six Million Euros To Wife Of French President Sarkozy In 2009.


Qatari Illegal Activities, The FIFA Trials, And "Qatargate":

A.FIFA Trials:

The International Association Football Federation (FIFA) trials, which began in 2017, focused on bribery of FIFA officials to support Qatar's hosting of the World Cup 2022 games. For details see the New York Times and The Guardian:,

The FIFA trials are taking place in several countries (France, Switzerland). However, dozens of people have pleaded guilty or have been convicted after a U.S.-led investigation into FIFA. Already $201 million dollars have been repaid to victims. See U.S. Department of Justice statement:


In December 2022, the Belgian authorities launched an investigation into alleged Qatari bribes of members of the European Parliament that covered a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed the center of Europe's government in Brussels. The internet news website Politico reported in December 2023 that Qatar allegedly engaged in bribes "staving off attempts by some MEPs to censure Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers and journalists." Qatar, according to Politico, also bribed MEPs to criticize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the European parliament and secure a visa-free travel deal between Brussels and Doha, among other objectives.

In December 2022, the European parliament stripped the Greek MEP Eva Kaili of her position as vice president of the assembly over accusations she accepted bribes from Qatar. In the course of the investigation, the police found large amounts of dollars involved in the bribery scheme.

Note: For other leaked documents connected to the Qatari regime, see Appendix.

*Yigal Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI.



Other Leaked Documents Connected To The Qatari Regime:

A. Qatar National Bank (QNB) Leak:

In 2016, the International Business Times (IBT) reported that hackers leaked financial data from the Qatar National Bank.

The IBT is a digital business publication whose headquarters are in the US, with 4 other local editions in other countries.

According to the IBT, a 1.4GB trove of data and internal documents from the Qatar National Bank included information on Al Jazeera journalists and the Aal Thani family that governs Qatar. The leaked material also revealed information about members of Britain's Ministry of Defense, the UK's foreign intelligence agency, MI6, and Qatar's security service. national-bank-1-4gb-database-leak-gives-data-customers-journalists-spies-1556787


B. "Project Endgame":

In October 2022 the Associated Press reported that a document titled "Project Endgame" was leaked. According to an AP report, "Project Endgame" was a Qatar financed surveillance operation carried out by a former CIA agent, Kevin Chalker, who runs Global Risk Advisers, to spy on Qatar's rivals to help the Gulf country secure the 2022 World Cup. Qatar's use of "Project Endgame" was designed to influence U.S policy. According to the AP article, the clandestine operation sought "to burnish Qatar's image a      mong American decision makers while undermining critics who have accused the Persian Gulf monarchy of financing terrorists and other wrongdoing." The FBI launched an investigation into Chalker in 2022.


Bernard-Henri Lévy Verdict:


[1] As is widely known also in Egypt and Syria in the course of the Arab Spring.

[2] The documents reveal the background to the war in Libya to remove Qadhafi, orchestrated by Qatar in 2011. Two leaked documents detailed meetings between (A) Bernard-Henri Lévy and then-Qatari prime minister Hamad Bin Jassim and (B) an agreement between then-Crown Prince Ben Hamid Aal Thani Tamim (current emir) and President Sarkozy in which Qatar committed to pay France all the costs of the French military and security expenses (point 3 in the agreement) while acting in Libya, and 300 million euros (point 4 in the agreement) to President Sarkozy. See  MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10966, Documents Reportedly Reveal 2010 Agreement Between Then French President Sarkozy And Then Qatari Crown Prince Tamim Bin Hamad, In Which Qatar Pledged To Pay Sarkozy 300 Million Euros, November 20, 2023.

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