The UAE recruited a businessman in 2017 to spy on U.S. President Donald Trump and influence his decisions on policies towards the Gulf country.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recruited a businessman to spy on their ally the United States President Donald Trump and the White House according to a report by The Intercept.
Rashid Malik, an Emirati businessman was paid tens of thousands of dollars by the National Intelligence Service of the UAE which also gave him a code name.
He was gathering information on Trump’s Middle East policy and reporting them to the UAE intelligence. His role as a businessman provided him a proper cover.
Malik’s was interviewed by members of Robert Mueller’s team after his name was propped up for illegal donations to Trump. They were also probing him for being part of the “illegal influence scheme.” However, the U.S: intelligence concluded that he was a paid intelligence source for the UAE throughout 2017.
He was paid to report on issues that would affect the UAE such as Trump’s attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood; the U.S. stand on the conflict between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar; and meetings between U.S. officials and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It is illegal for anyone other than diplomats or consular officials to operate on behalf of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Justice Department.
Ali Shamsi, the director of the Emirati National Intelligence Service was overseeing Malik. An anonymous source who knows Shamsi told The Intercept that he is “more than just a spy. He’s also a discreet messenger” for UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
“Al-Shamsi and the Emirati government clearly think they can influence Trump by doing business with him,” a source said who is familiar with the UAE intelligence operations.
In the past, UAE has recruited businesspeople, and wealthy citizens to carry out intelligence gathering for the government according to former U.S. intelligence officials.
Malik was enlisted as a spy “because he has pre-existing access, a natural role.”
The Gulf country has constantly enjoyed Trump’s support since 2017. The U.S. president also backed Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Qatar. He did not stop arms sale to the Gulf countries even after facing pressure from Congress after Saudi Arabia killed Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist.
The president also vetoed a resolution to stop its support for Saudi and UAE-led intervention in Yemen.
His administration also pushed to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.
Malik was a pilot for Emirates, the government-owned airline. He came to the U.S. in 1998 to study aviation but left the university without receiving a degree. He worked as a pilot from 2000 to 2006 before becoming an executive at Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. Currently, he runs Hayah Holdings.
The company does not have a website or physical address in Dubai but documents from Oakland city described it as “a private investment company based in Dubai with strong financial ties in the Gulf region.”
“Mr. Malik formed Hayah Holdings to help identify investment and development opportunities in established markets such as the United States and Europe,” according to a 2013 document from the Oakland city administrator’s office. “Their focus has primarily been on large mixed-use real estate developments, especially those of a transformational nature and with a significant sport, entertainment content and infrastructure related opportunities [sic].”