More than 1,000 individuals in Europe targeted and listed by the United Arab Emirates

The UAE intelligence services subcontracted a Swiss intelligence company for surveillance and attacks on several European personalities

French news outlet Médiapart, in collaboration with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) media network, revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had conducted a large-scale profiling operation in Europe with the assistance of a Swiss private intelligence company, Alp Services.

“Our documents show that between 2017 and 2020, Alp Services provided the Emirati services with the names of over 1,000 individuals and more than 400 organizations supposedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in eighteen European countries, including over 200 individuals and 120 organizations in France,” explained Médiapart.

The same media outlet stated that this widespread profiling was conducted “outside any legal framework” and that “many names have nothing to do with radical Islam.”

It cited examples such as “former Socialist presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, Marseille Deputy Mayor and former Senator Samia Ghali, author and filmmaker Rokhaya Diallo, as well as the Bondy Blog, the La France Insoumise party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and even the CNRS, the French public research organization.”

A journalist from Médiapart was also among the targeted individuals and has decided to file a complaint, along with other listed individuals.

“Some individuals are equated with terrorists who have been convicted and linked to al-Qaeda. Their phone numbers and personal details are sometimes included. They are all described as close associates or supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. This movement is classified as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the UAE. This Gulf dictatorship suppresses any opposition, far from the image of modernity portrayed by Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country,” Médiapart elaborated.

According to Médiapart, the operation was led by Mario Brero, the head of Alp Services, whose lawyers dispute the authenticity of the documents obtained by investigative journalists. They have also threatened to take legal action against Médiapart for the use of “stolen documents.”

A €5.7 million contract In 2017, in Abu Dhabi, Mario Brero proposed to an Emirati intelligence agent named Matar “a vast operation aimed at ‘mapping’ and ‘discrediting’ the enemies of the UAE, by discreetly and massively disseminating compromising information,” Médiapart revealed.

Matar then put Mario Brero in touch with Ali Saeed al-Neyadi, who, as a cover, headed a local administration responsible for crisis and natural disaster management. “In reality, the organization, which directly depends on the Supreme Council for National Security, is also the armed branch of special operations,” the French media outlet specified.

Both parties signed a contract in which Alp Services allegedly received at least €5.7 million between 2017 and 2020, “paid by an Emirati research center named Al Ariaf, which serves as a cover for the services.”

“Mario Brero knows how to exploit his client’s sentiments, offering mission proposals steeped in simplistic theories about the networks of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he proposes to ‘reveal’ and ‘destroy’ by ‘influencing the public and political leaders.'”

Alp Services provided “dozens of reports dedicated to personalities and country-based mappings. The presentation is in line with the client: bloodstains, a map of Europe colored with the logo of the Muslim Brotherhood, and references to the ‘mafia.'”

After the comprehensive profiling, the UAE intelligence services placed orders with the Swiss company for the next stage: “attacking selected targets, with fees ranging from €20,000 to €50,000 per individual, using aggressive means such as press campaigns, published articles with fake profiles, modifying Wikipedia pages, and even manoeuvring to convince bankers to close accounts.”

According to Médiapart, these lists are like a “catch-all”: “Religious figures or activists from religious associations are associated with anti-racist activists such as Rokhaya Diallo, or with three officials from the Coexister association, which raises awareness among young people about tolerance and interreligious dialogue and was awarded the Republic of France’s Laïcité Prize in 2016.

Also among the listed are Marseille Deputy Mayor and former Socialist Senator Samia Ghali and Taha Bouhafs, a journalist and activist with La France Insoumise. Hakim El Karoui, the ‘Mr. Islam’ of the Montaigne Institute is listed alongside Mennel Ibtissem, a former candidate on The Voice.”

These profiles are not limited to France. “In Belgium, the Minister of Climate, Zakia Khattabi, was included in the mapping of local Islamists.” In the United Kingdom, former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is singled out in a report, while in Norway, Alp Services targeted Swedish or Danish personalities.

Public sources Zakia Khattabi, the Belgian minister, stated to media in her country that she had “received the allegations with astonishment and concern” and considered the matter “serious” because “private companies operate on European territory on behalf of foreign interests and do not hesitate to fabricate cases.”

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the UAE ambassador to Brussels for “full explanations and clarifications,” according to the Belgian channel RTBF.

“Another target: Tariq Ramadan. The Islamic scholar is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood but claims not to be a member of the organization. He believes he has been under the scrutiny of Emirati intelligence since the Arab Spring, starting in 2010,” reported a Swiss media outlet.

“My outspoken support for the people and democratic processes, as well as my criticism of corrupt and autocratic Arab states, probably explain why I am a target of the UAE, among others,” Tariq Ramadan stated to Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS).

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