UAE Filed $2.8 Billion Lawsuit Against The US For “Dark PR” Misinformation
January 25, 2024 / By Zunair Tahir / Tech News
On Wednesday, a Washington court received a lawsuit from the United Arab Emirates and its strongman, alleging that they funded a “dark public relations” campaign that made up evidence connecting an American oil dealer to terrorist funding.
Hazim Nada, a trader, filed a complaint in the District of Columbia, claiming that the UAE funded Alp Services, a Swiss private intelligence organization, to “seriously damage” his business and image through a broad smear campaign beginning in 2017.
The purported effort against Nada, which was initially revealed by The New Yorker in 2017, sheds light on a burgeoning sector of what security experts refer to as “disinformation-for-hire” businesses, which propagate false narratives and sell influence operations to governments and other willing customers.
The UAE, its President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, often known as MBZ, its national oil corporation ADNOC, Emirati authorities, and Alp Services are among the several parties that Nada is suing.
According to his attorneys, Nada is suing for $2.77 billion in damages related to the campaign that forced his commodities trading company, Lord Energy, into bankruptcy.
Through the Swiss private investigation company Alp Services, “the United Arab Emirates and some of its top officials managed, directed, and bankrolled a years-long ‘dark’ public relations campaign,” according to the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, the UAE and the Geneva-based Alp bribed “journalists” and a George Washington University professor, among others, to defame a number of persons, including Nada.
The complaint claimed that the Swiss company approached the UAE in 2017 and offered to deploy “offensive viral communications” to discredit Nada and dozens of other parties deemed to be antagonistic to the oil-rich Gulf state. The case was based on more than 8,000 documents that hackers had obtained from Alp’s internal computers.
The strategy was to cast doubt on Nada—who was born in Maryland, in the United States—by claiming that Lord Energy was a front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Based on court files, audio recordings, and other documents reviewed by AFP, Alp boasted of its capacity to carry out “disinformation operations” on businesses and individuals, claiming that its clientele included affluent individuals and country governments.
Alp claimed to have bankrupted Lord Energy in less than two years in a conversation with a government official from the United Arab Emirates. Alp’s methods included impersonating Nada in order to get phone records and other sensitive information unlawfully.
According to the complaint, Lord Energy was targeted for elimination by ADNOC and the UAE because they perceived it as a significant financial threat.
The lawsuit claimed that “MBZ had ultimate approval authority over the enterprise’s disinformation operations.”