Growing backlash against the United Arab Emirates’ involvement in a defamation campaign linking European individuals to the Muslim Brotherhood and extremism. Diplomatic sources reveal recalls of UAE ambassadors in several European countries. Belgium takes a firm stance by recalling UAE Ambassador Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and demanding explanations. Details emerge from leaked documents obtained by Mediapart and European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).
Belgium’s Strong Protest: Ambassador Recall and Denial of Allegations
Belgium recalls UAE Ambassador Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and demands full explanations. RTBF, a Belgian radio station, confirms the recall and highlights Brussels’ strong protest. UAE’s alleged involvement in a campaign to tarnish the reputation of European figures draws condemnation. Individuals and organizations listed without valid connections to extremism.
ALP Services and the Creation of Target Files
Private Swiss intelligence company ALP Services creates files for individuals and organizations on behalf of Emirati intelligence agencies. Leaked documents reveal the creation of files for individuals from 18 European countries and 400 organizations. A chart listing names and connections aims to link individuals to extremism. Focus on the inclusion of Belgian individuals, including Zakia Khattabi and Ecolo party.
Denials and Condemnation from Belgian Figures
Zakia Khattabi, the Belgian federal minister for the environment and sustainability, denies any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood and criticizes the UAE’s approach. Ecolo party condemns the UAE’s involvement and describes it as anti-democratic. Political scientist Fouad Gandoul, another Belgian listed, refutes any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Gandoul’s membership in an expired organization led to his inclusion.
Financial Transactions and Campaign Efforts
Leaked documents reveal UAE’s purchase requests from €20,000 to €50,000 per individual target. UAE pays at least €5.7 million to ALP and its head, Mario Brero. ALP’s campaign includes media manipulation, Wikipedia edits, and efforts to influence banks. Over 200 individuals and 120 organizations in France have files created by ALP. Former presidential candidate Benoît Hamon shares his experience of being targeted.
Previous Campaign by ALP: Tarnishing the International Islamic Relief Organization (IRW)
UAE funded a campaign by ALP to tarnish the reputation of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IRW). The campaign aimed to link IRW officials to the Muslim Brotherhood and violent extremists. The New Yorker magazine reported on this campaign in March of the previous year.
The UAE’s involvement in a defamation campaign targeting European individuals and organizations has sparked outrage and diplomatic protests. Leaked documents expose the creation of false connections and efforts to tarnish reputations. The recall of ambassadors and widespread condemnation demonstrate the gravity of the situation and the need for transparency and accountability.