UAE spy “Matar” has been exposed through an email that revealed Abu Dhabi’s secret plots to tarnish reputations. His real name has not been verified, but he is known as “Sheikh Matar.” He is an Emirati spy whose mission is to coordinate Abu Dhabi’s covert operations in Europe, aimed at launching a widespread campaign of incitement and defamation.
Matar works as an agent for the Swiss intelligence bureau and is at the centre of an international journalistic investigation titled “Abu Dhabi’s Secrets,” based on documents obtained by Mediapart and analyzed in collaboration with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network and shared with the Lebanese website “Daraj.”
For at least 5.7 million euros, the Swiss intelligence agency Alp Services executed repetitive tasks for Sheikh Matar, targeting Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
This was accomplished through unlawful espionage on over 1,000 Europeans, manipulation of the judiciary, secret investigations within the European Union, and manipulation of certain media outlets through a network of paid journalists.
The “Abu Dhabi’s Secrets” investigative series is based on confidential documents obtained by hacking into Alp Services, which were then carried out by European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network members in cooperation with Heidi.news, RSI Television (Switzerland), Domanim (Italy), and “Daraj.”
The investigations reveal the special operations conducted by Alp Services on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, including gathering information on individuals or organizations, online influence operations, lobbying elected officials, and using paid journalists. Mediapart continues its work on interventions and issues involving foreign interference in France.
According to leaked documents, to ensure secure communication, Alp Services Chief Mario Brero created an encrypted Protonmail account with anonymous email addresses (such as email@example.com): one for Alp Services and another for Sheikh Matar, making any interception virtually impossible.
However, the Emirati spy made a fatal mistake. On October 2, 2017, he wrote to Mario Brero via WhatsApp, requesting the email address and password to be resent because he was “outside the office.”
The result was that when hackers managed to retrieve data from the Swiss agency on March 19, 2021, coinciding with Mario Brero’s birthday, they gained access to the secret email of the Emirati spy.
Sheikh Matar placed great trust in this email, which he used not only for communication with Alp Services but also to visually document Abu Dhabi’s methods and techniques used in confidential investigations against UN experts in Yemen and the exploitation of Qatar’s enemies, as well as attempts to influence the French government.
Among the regular correspondents with Sheikh Matar is Frenchman Roland Jacquard, a former journalist turned self-proclaimed expert in militant Islam.
He is the head of the “International Observatory of Terrorism” and its sole member, regularly appearing on television screens, where he has presented false information multiple times.
For example, he provided a satellite phone number claiming it belonged to Al-Qaeda when, in fact, it was the Red Cross’ number, according to a former agent of the French General Directorate for External Security who describes Roland Jacquard as a “national specialist in fake news.”
Behind the scenes, Jacquard engages in various activities, including private consulting. He introduced numerous clients and contracts to the Swiss Alp Services, including the Emirati contract, and it was he who introduced Mario Brero to the client Matar in 2017.
The deal was lucrative for both men. Jacquard was entitled to receive 10% of the payments, although Mario Brero sometimes forgot to pay him the promised commission for certain tasks.
Internal documents show that Roland Jacquard received at least 300,000 euros related to the Emirati contract. A file titled “Jacquard-pmt-commission” indicates a payment of 80,000 euros for initial tasks in 2017, 60,000 euros in 2018, and 102,000 euros in 2019.
In 2020, a document mentioned the need to pay 90,000 euros in two instalments: 70,000 euros as an invoice and 20,000 euros in cash to be given to Roland Jacquard “during his next visit.”
Calculating the total amount accurately is difficult due to the nature of the non-conventional financial relationship, including advance payments, undisclosed loans, cash payments, and transfers to his bank account at CIC in Normandy.
The larger amounts were paid to African Sentinel and Solutions, a London-registered company. It was operated by a company based in Mauritius but had an address in Liechtenstein, which became owned by Roland Jacquard in 2018.
The peculiar thing is that during this occasion, the “terrorism expert” claimed to have Gabonese citizenship and residing in that country, although he was born in Tunisia and resides in France.
The “10% man” of Alp Services enjoys a rare privilege: direct communication with Sheikh Matar. We were able to access 44 emails, some of which were revealed in our previous investigation in March.
Roland Jacquard, the well-connected man, decided to present himself to his agent in a dazzling manner. He sent a message to the spy Matar without any explanation, claiming that Joe Biden sent it on October 8, 2020, when he was Vice President of the United States.
“Dear friend from France, dear Roland, thank you again for your excellent contribution to my international counterterrorism program,” the message says, concluding with, “This reminds me of our conversations at Number One Observatory Circle with our mutual friends.”
Jacquard’s messages were sometimes brief warnings in simple, broken English.
But in many of them, the expert claims to provide the Emirati client with secret information obtained from intelligence agencies, governments, and even the French President himself.
For example, he mentions supposed “private” conversations between Emmanuel Macron and the Pope or Angela Merkel.
“On high alert in France,” he wrote on October 27, 2020, claiming that he spent the day in a “security meeting” due to a bomb discovered in Paris and a “controlled ISIS cell in Argenteuil.”
Regarding the impact of the Muslim Brotherhood in France and their funding by Qatar, which is a major concern for the United Arab Emirates, Roland Jacquard confirms to Sheikh Matar that he is a professional in building a lobby and is highly effective. He has succeeded in influencing the law on the separation of religion and state in 2020 through “special” meetings with President Emmanuel Macron’s advisers, Prime Minister Jean Castex, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, and Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti.
There are contradictions in some of the emails, as information was presented as confidential despite being public.
In December 2020, Roland Jacquard sent a supposed memorandum to Sheikh Matar, claiming to be a summary of a strategic study by the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGR) and the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security (SGDSN), but it only contained trivial details about Brexit.
In the end, did Roland Jacquard sell state secrets at a high price to a foreign power? Or did he make a mistake by providing his agent with false information? He refused to answer our questions.
Another operation is underway, or at least it is a fascinating narrative, by “Karim’s correspondent” for Alp Services: French journalist Ian Hamel, who works for Le Point magazine and Marianne magazine.
The story begins with Jean-Pierre Marongiu, a French entrepreneur residing in Qatar. He claims to have fallen into a trap set by his local partner and was falsely accused despite losing everything. He was arrested in 2013 when he attempted to flee the country and was held without trial for five years.
In 2017, he managed to contact Ian Hamel from inside prison. He claims that many members of the Qatari ruling family are also detained with him, which the journalist mentioned in an article published by Le Point magazine, while Qatari authorities deny it.
After his release in 2018, Jean-Pierre Marongiu, along with Ian Hamel, confirmed the journalist’s previous claims. He invited him to meet Sheikha Asmaa Arian, the wife of one of the Qatari princes, Sheikh Talal II, a cousin of the Qatari Amir.
Just five days later, even though he hadn’t published anything yet, Ian Hamel sent a report to Alp Services. In it, he reveals the behind-the-scenes details of his investigation and the identity of his sources, violating journalistic rules and ethics.
His article was published in Marianne magazine just three weeks later, on December 14, 2018. The anonymous Sheikha responded, stating that Talal II “can testify to disturbing things for the regime, such as the distribution of funding to terrorist organizations in Somalia, the Sahel region, and Sinai.” These allegations, of course, are a source of satisfaction for the United Arab Emirates.
On February 23, 2019, Ian Hamel sent a confidential copy of the book “InQarcéré” to Mario Berrero, which was to be published only three weeks later. In the book, Jean-Pierre Marongiu recounts his detention. The journalist points out that the book is interesting and includes a report on Qatar’s funding of two fake members of the Islamic State within its territory on page 70.
On March 7, Alp sent a report to the Emirati spy Matar, disclosing the details provided by their “agent” Ian Hamel, including the identity of the sources: Jean-Pierre Marongiu and Asmaa Arian.
Alp stated that “according to our sources, Qatar feels extremely embarrassed” due to Marianne’s article and will be equally embarrassed when the book reaches bookstores.
At the same time, the UAE decided to exploit the journalists’ sources. Mario Berrero asked Ian Hamel to introduce him to Jean-Pierre Marongiu, which he accepted. Alp prepared an approved action plan by Sheikh Matar. The goal was to give maximum publicity to the book “InQarcéré.”
A WhatsApp group was created to connect Jean-Pierre Marongiu, Mario Berrero, and their team. The conversations show that the writer received payment. An Alp employee writes to him, “We can pay the remaining 2000 euros at the end of the week,” and asks for an invoice, along with one for the previous payment of “3000 euros.”
At the end of 2019, Alp congratulated itself in its final report for making Jean-Pierre Marongiu, despite his extremist personality, a “reliable human rights activist against Qatar.”
Asmaa Arian, the second source for the French journalist, managed to leave Qatar with her children. As a German of Moroccan origin, she returned to Germany and launched a public campaign to announce the arbitrary detention of her husband, Sheikh Talal, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for debts, despite being wealthy.
She organized a press conference in Geneva, where she took photos with her children in front of the United Nations headquarters. She conducted several interviews, including one with Ian Hamel for Oumma.com or the Fox News network.
In her legitimate war to release her husband, Asmaa Arian received assistance from a star lawyer: American attorney Mark Summers, who was a former professor at Harvard University and established a specialized office in Germany for human rights.
She filed a successful complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council, which ruled last year that Talal II’s detention was arbitrary.
Mark Summers regularly wrote reports about his work with Asmaa Arian to the Emirati spy Matar, who also worked with him on other cases. In an email, he talks about his upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi in September 2019 for a business meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On June 25, 2019, Mark Summers sent Matar a copy of an interview conducted by Asmaa Arian with Al-Arabiya channel. He expresses his frustration, stating, “I didn’t advise her to do that,” and condemns her accusation of Qatar’s “conspiracy,” which could negatively affect her case before the United Nations. “I asked her again to stop making mistakes in the media. […] We will provide her with new media training this morning,” he concludes his message. “Well, please ask her to really stop doing that,” Sheikh Matar responds.
In June 2019, Summers asked the Emirati spy if he agreed to the cost of 650 euros per month proposed by the security company that should protect Asmaa Arian. “I will sign the contract and pay from my personal bank account. It has no connection to the United Arab Emirates,” he explains. “Please continue,” Sheikh Matar responds. After three weeks, the lawyer sends the spy a lease contract for his client’s residence and suggests paying the rent (3630 euros per month) from his “personal account.”