UN Investigators Targeted in UAE Influence Operation

Two UN investigators, Kamel Jendoubi from Tunisia and Ahmed Himmiche from Morocco, were targeted in an influence operation orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through the Swiss company Alp Services, according to the latest revelations from Abu Dhabi Secrets.

The consortium of media outlets, including RTS, disclosed that the two men were subjected to surveillance and profiling, with one of them becoming the victim of a smear campaign.

For the past week, the international investigation Abu Dhabi Secrets has been uncovering the dubious practices of Alp Services, a Geneva-based intelligence firm. Since 2018, the company’s mission has been to tarnish the reputations of the UAE’s perceived “enemies” in Switzerland and Europe.

Among the prime targets were numerous UN Human Rights Council actors, headquartered in Geneva. Under the codename “Probus,” one of the operations launched by the Geneva detectives specifically targeted Kamel Jendoubi and Ahmed Himmiche.

Kamel Jendoubi, a former Tunisian minister, and his colleague Ahmed Himmiche, a high-ranking Moroccan army officer, were appointed in late 2017 to investigate the war in Yemen. The country, located in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula, has been torn apart by a civil war involving the UAE and Saudi Arabia, among others.

In August 2018, Kamel Jendoubi presented the initial findings of his investigation in Geneva, accusing Abu Dhabi of war crimes. At that point, Alp Services offered the Emirati authorities to target both him and his colleague.

The first step involved creating detailed biographies or profiles of the two men, including professional and family connections, education, and political affiliations.

Every aspect was meticulously scrutinized to find any potential vulnerabilities. Once the hook was found, the second phase of the smear campaign could begin. It started in early 2019 and focused solely on Kamel Jendoubi.

“My friends alerted me that a campaign of attack and disinformation against me was taking place on television channels affiliated with the UAE and Saudi Arabia and on social media. This campaign vilified us and aimed to question our honesty, neutrality, and even our expertise and integrity,” recalled Kamel Jendoubi.

He then alerted the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which oversees his work on the Yemen war. However, he received no response.

“I even sensed indifference,” Jendoubi lamented, highlighting the challenging situation faced by UN institutions when dealing with financially and diplomatically powerful countries that can exert enormous pressure, effectively neutralizing any firm response to the actions of a rogue state.

The former Tunisian minister also questioned the presence of a company like Alp Services in Switzerland. “I am shocked that such a company exists in Switzerland, considering that Switzerland enjoys an image that positions it as the seat of the United Nations and various international organizations.”

Alp Services declined to respond to RTS’s inquiries and dismissed the investigation as baseless. An official Emirati source referred to the investigations as biased and unfounded.

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