Thursday, 07 January 2010, 13:10
S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/01/07 TAGS: ECON, PTER, KTFN, AE, AF, EFIN SUBJECT: (S) US-UAE Further Cooperation to Disrupt Taliban Finance
CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Olson, Ambassador, State Department, U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
1. (S//NF) SUMMARY. On December 15-16, 2009, Treasury Department Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Howard Mendelsohn, along with GRPO officers and Treasury analysts, met with senior officials from the UAE’s State Security Department (SSD) and Dubai’s General Department of State Security (GDSS) to discuss suspected Taliban-related financial activity in the UAE. Prior to these meetings, GRPO and Treasury passed to SSD and GDSS detailed information on the financing of the Taliban and other terrorist and extremist groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mendelsohn praised the UAE for its contribution to building a stable and moderate Afghanistan. He thanked the SSD and GDSS for its commitment, per the directive of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to disrupt any Taliban-related financial activity that can be identified in the UAE. The UAE services pledged full cooperation toward the shared goal and asked for additional detailed and actionable lead information. In particular, they asked for additional passport information, telephone numbers, full names and aliases, and travel itineraries for Taliban figures suspected of traveling to the UAE. END SUMMARY.
2. (S//NF) During the course of the two multi-hour intelligence exchange sessions, GRPO and Treasury analysts walked through the previously shared information suggesting that Taliban-related finance officials have visited the UAE in order to raise or move funds. The UAE security officials believe that the Taliban may draw support from the sizeable Pashtun population resident in the UAE. They asked for lead information the U.S. could gather with names of individuals or entities in the UAE that may be supporting the Taliban.
3. (S//NF) Officials from SSD and GDSS pledged that their respective organizations would follow up on the information provided, and work through intelligence channels to share information and results and submit additional requests for information.
4. (S//NF) Mendelsohn acknowledged the important steps the UAE has taken to combat al-Qaida and the Taliban-to include sending troops to Afghanistan-and highlighted the importance the USG places on combating Taliban financing. He stated that the Taliban receives significant money from narcotics trafficking and extortion, but noted that the U.S. believes that the group also receives significant funds from the Gulf, particularly from donors in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He further stated that the Taliban and Haqqani Network are believed to earn money from UAE-based business interests. Security officials from both SSD and GDSS agreed that the Taliban and Haqqani Network are serious threats. Officials from SSD added that Iran supports the Taliban with money and weapons, helps the Taliban smuggle drugs, and facilitates the movement of Taliban and al-Qaida members. SSD officials stated that Iran’s IRGC and navy are involved with these activities. GDSS officials noted Iran’s support to Taliban in Pakistan, adding that GDSS believes that India also has supported Pakistani Taliban and Pashtun separatists.
5. (S//NF) Treasury analysts provided information on XXXXXXXXXXXX two senior Taliban officials who have made multiple fundraising visits to the UAE, according to U.S. intelligence. The UAE security services were not familiar with either individual and asked for additional identifying information, including current passport information used by the individuals to enter the UAE in order to track down their movements. (NOTE: Information available to the USG and shared for this exchange included telephone numbers, an e-mail address, and expired passport information for crosschecking against Emirati immigration databases on both individuals. END NOTE.) SSD confirmed it checked UAE immigration systems based on the passport information provided and found no matching records. GRPO and Treasury analysts also shared names and phone numbers of multiple Taliban and Haqqani associates known either to reside in or travel to the UAE. SSD officials stated that Taliban fundraisers may use fabricated travel documents, and that Pakistanis/Afghanis often carry multiple passports, but noted that individuals from Pakistan and Afghanistan who apply for a travel visa now require an eye scan. The officials said this system should help prevent a single individual from using different aliases or passports. The services pledged to continue their investigations and share further results.
6. (S//NF) GDSS officials noted its ongoing monitoring of the large Afghan and Pakistani immigrant communities in Dubai and they commented that the Taliban extorts money from UAE-based Afghan businessmen. The same officials said the Taliban is also involved in kidnapping for ransom, whereby Afghanistan and Pakistan-based family members of the UAE-based businessmen are kidnapped for Taliban profit. Some Afghan businessmen in the UAE have resorted to purchasing tickets on the day of travel to limit the chance of being kidnapped themselves upon arrival in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
7. (S//NF) The GDSS officials stated that hawaladars are usually unwitting when they transfer money that ends up with the Taliban. They further noted that Taliban financial supporters are likely to transfer smaller amounts across multiple hawalas to minimize suspicion.
8. (S//NF) SSD officials discussed the Taliban and Haqqani Network’s suspected use of front companies to raise and move money. They were familiar with Haji Khalil Zadran, a Kabul-based Haqqani Network financial facilitator who has visited the UAE, but were not able to provide any details on him.
9. (S//NF) GDSS officials were familiar with XXXXXXXXXXXX who reportedly provides funding to the Taliban/Haqqani Network, according to U.S. intelligence. The GDSS officials stated that they do not believe XXXXXXXXXXXX is loyal to the Taliban, and noted that he has cooperated with Pakistani authorities, as well as with Afghan President Karzai. They pointed out XXXXXXXXXXXX’s past visits from former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Zaif, but noted that such visits-which may have resulted in financial support-have ceased. GDSS continues to monitor XXXXXXXXXXXX although at present they do not believe that he is a Taliban financial manager. Mendelsohn suggested that he may be a pragmatist who maintains relationships with legitimate authorities, but the USG has current information that suggests he is still involved with the Taliban.
10. (S//NF) GDSS discussed at length the history of the Haqqanis. They specifically highlighted Jalaluddin Haqqani’s success in exploiting images of civilian casualties in Afghanistan for fundraising purposes.
(S//NF) Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran wa al-Sunna
11. (S//NF) Mendelsohn also raised Afghanistan and Pakistan-based extremist and terrorist groups, to include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) and Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran wa al-Sunna (JDQ). UAE security services were not familiar with the names of specific UAE-based LT members shared by GRPO and Treasury, but promised to follow up on the information. Mendelsohn raised the UAE-based NGO Dar al-Birr as an organization suspected of supporting JDQ. GDSS was familiar with the organization and pledged to investigate the matter.