According to a news report published by Mediapart, a leading French online news portal, the United Arab Emirates targeted a wide range of Muslims across Europe as part of its anti-Qatar smear campaign at the height of the GCC crisis in 2017.
Based on 78,000 confidential documents obtained by the French portal, the Abu Dhabi Secrets case reportedly involved people from 18 different European countries being spied on by Alp Services, a company hired by the Emirati government.
Alp Services, a Swiss private intelligence firm, was hired by the UAE government to spy on citizens of 18 different European countries.
Between 2017 and 2020, Alp Services gave the details of over 1,000 people and 400 companies and organisations to the Emirati intelligence services, who claimed that they all were members of — or sympathisers with — the Muslim Brotherhood.
Alp services was founded by Mario Brero,a 77-year-old veteran of private investigations,and was paid tens of thousands of euros per targeted individual.
On August 7, 2017, Brero shared with Matar, an intelligence agent from the UAE, the proposal formulated by his agency two weeks prior — an extensive operation aimed at “mapping” and subsequently “discrediting” the alleged enemies of the UAE.
The plan involved discreetly and extensively disseminating compromising information, Mediapart reported.
In 2017, Alps paid multiple visits to Abu Dhabi, during which Matar guided the Swiss private investigators to his superior, Ali Saeed Al-Neyadi, the mastermind behind the operation.
Exchanges between the two struck a chord, leading to the signing of the first contract in October, 2017. According to the documents gathered by Mediapart, Alp Services received a minimum of €5.7 million in payment between the years 2017 and 2020, with the funds being provided by a UAE research centre known as Al Ariaf, which allegedly acts as a front for the intelligence services.
The UAE’s animosity towards Qatar cannot be purely explained as an ideological conflict. It is part of the Gulf countries’ struggle for interests worldwide, especially in Europe, where Qatar took the lead after winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.