A report says an Emirati businessman received money from the UAE’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) to spy on US President Donald Trump’s camp and gather intelligence on his administration’s Middle East policy.\
The Intercept online news publication reported on Monday that Rashid al-Malik was paid tens of thousands of dollars a month for snooping on aspects the Trump administration’s Middle East agenda.
Citing unnamed sources and official documents, the report said that Malik’s investment business provided him “a convenient cover” to gather information.
“Malik was tasked to report to his Emirati intelligence handlers on topics of consequence to the UAE, such as attitudes within the Trump administration toward the Muslim Brotherhood; US efforts to mediate the ongoing feud between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar; and meetings between senior US officials and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” it added.
Malik, the report noted, had told his handlers that he had approached unnamed US individuals about a possible business venture that was indirectly associated with Trump.
It further named NIS Director Ali al-Shamsi as one of the Emirati government officials overseeing Malik, a former Dubai aerospace executive and chair of the investment firm Hayah Holdings.
Shamsi is “more than just a spy. He’s also a discreet messenger” for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his brother Tahnoun, the UAE’s national security adviser, a source told The Intercept.
“Shamsi and the Emirati government clearly think they can influence Trump by doing business with him,” said a person with direct knowledge of UAE intelligence operations, requesting anonymity.
Malik’s lawyer, however, stressed that his client was “not an intelligence operative.”
“He has never been ‘tasked’ to deliver information about the inner workings of the Trump administration,” Bill Coffield said, adding that Malik has “on numerous occasions, discussed various business ideas for UAE projects in the US.”
Recently, The New York Times reported that investigators are looking into “whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme” as part of a probe into potential illegal donations to Trump’s inaugural fund and a pro-Trump Super Political Action Committee by Middle Eastern donors.