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05ABUDHABI3211 2005-07-23 01:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abu Dhabi
Cable title:  

DEA ADMINISTRATOR'S UAE VISIT - IT'S ALL ABOUT THE

Tags:   SNAR PTER KTFN EFIN ETTC AF TC 
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Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
C O N F I D E N T I A L        ABU DHABI 03211

SIPDIS
CXABU:
    ACTION: ECON
    INFO:   LEGAT ICE AMB DCM POL P/M

DISSEMINATION: ECON
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:MJSISON
DRAFTED: ECON:AECURTIS
CLEARED: CG:JD DAO:BK POL:JM ECON:OJ

VZCZCADI351
PP RUEHC RUEHZM RUEHIL RUEHBUL RHEHNSC RUEABND
RUEAWJA RUEAIIA
DE RUEHAD #3211/01 2040142
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 230142Z JUL 05
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0778
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1409
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0222
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ABU DHABI 003211 

SIPDIS

DEA FOR ADMINISTRATOR TANDY
STATE FOR INL/FO, INL/AAE PETE PRAHER, NEA/ARPI, NEA/RA,
SA/FO, SA/A

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/20/2015
TAGS: SNAR PTER KTFN EFIN ETTC AF TC
SUBJECT: DEA ADMINISTRATOR'S UAE VISIT - IT'S ALL ABOUT THE
MONEY

REF: A. ABU DHABI 0508

B. ABU DHABI 3008

C. ABU DHABI 3161

Classified By: (U) Classified by Ambassador Michele J. Sison, for reaso
ns 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (U) This cable contains an action request. Please see
paragraph 11.



2. (U) Summary: In a 15-17 July visit to the UAE, DEA
Administrator Karen Tandy met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin
Zayed, and Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi.
Tandy stressed with each of her interlocutors that the U.S.
wants to enhance its partnership with the UAE in order to
help both nations better identify and target the flow of drug
money laundering through the UAE. All three officials
pledged their cooperation and increased engagement, and said
the most effective way to ensure an effective partnership is
to share information. UAE officials are keenly aware that
the UAE is used as a transshipment point for narcotics from
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, and Interior Minister Saif
and MbZ discussed concentrated UAE efforts to stem the flow
of drugs from these source countries. After hearing Tandy's
brief on the counternarcotics challenge faced by President
Karzai's Government, MbZ offered to donate seven used Gazelle
helicopters to Afghanistan's Narcotics Interdiction Unit (see
para 11). Administrator Tandy also met with the Dubai-based
British, Canadian, and Australian Drug Liaison Officers
(DLOs), who reported increasing success in narcotic-related
law enforcement cooperation with Dubai authorities, along
with their growing concerns about the use of Dubai's real
estate market to launder drug profits. They worried that the
increasing number of air-links between Dubai and other
international cities -- including planned direct links
between Dubai and South America -- increased the potential
for drugs to be transshipped through Dubai.



3. (SBU) Summary, continued. The UAE has solid anti-money
laundering laws, and the Central Bank has been very proactive
in shutting down the use of the UAE's financial sector for
money laundering and terror finance. However, UAE officials
have not distinguished between drug money laundering and
other types of money laundering. Tandy's message that the
international community is concerned about drug traffickers
exploiting the UAE financial system resonated with her
interlocutors. As a result, we will likely see increased
focus on the part of the UAE Government on the problem of
drug money going through the UAE financial system. End
summary.
Increased Cooperation to Follow the Money


--------------------------





4. (U) DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, accompanied by DEA
Chief of Financial Operations Donald Semesky, Assistant
Regional Director Thomas Nuse, and Special Agent Philip
Devlin, visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai July 15-17. In meetings
with MbZ, Interior Minister Saif, and Central Bank Governor
Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi, Tandy noted that international
narcotics experts have a solid understanding of the flow of
the narcotics and pre-cursor chemicals, but are less clear
about the movement of drug money. Describing the UAE as the
"linchpin" to understanding the flow of narcotics funds from
Southwest Asia, Tandy underscored the importance of working
with the UAE as a partner to identify and eliminate the use
of the UAE financial system by narco-traffickers. Central
Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi pledged his personal
commitment to work with the United States to "fill this hole
in knowledge" and help the international community identify
how drug money is sent through the UAE. But noting that the
UAE has limited intelligence resources, he asked that the
U.S. work with the UAEG to "define the hole." In that
regard, both Interior Minister Saif (whose Ministry has
overall federal responsibility for narcotics investigations)
and Governor Al Suweidi were enthusiastic about Tandy's offer
of training on identifying and targeting drug money
laundering. Al Suweidi requested the training be for all
Gulf Cooperation Council countries.



5. (SBU) Interior Minister Saif acknowledged that the
Ministry's police investigators do not yet have the ability
to track drug money. He said his investigators and UAE
customs officials are adept at tracking drugs and pre-cursor
chemicals, but since police departments do not have financial
crimes experts, they are less able to track the movement of
money. To rectify this problem (particularly in order to
investigate money laundering and terror finance cases), last
year Interior Minister Saif sent five of his officers to a
six month accounting course. (Note: In February, Interior
Minister Saif told Ambassador that the five officers would
now spend two years working at the Central Bank in order to
gain a better understanding of the banking system -- ref A.)



6. (U) To further establish the UAE's participation as a
partner in the international fight against narcotics
trafficking and money laundering, Tandy emphasized the
importance of UAE participation at next year's International
Drug Enforcement Conference (which will likely be held in
May). Governor Al Suweidi unequivocally stated that he would
personally ensure that the UAE sent a delegation. Interior
Minister Saif agreed that UAE attendance was important.
"Sharing and collaborating in the fight against drugs will
help the United States in the short term and the UAE in the
long run, because it will prevent the problem from increasing
in the UAE."



7. (U) All of Tandy's interlocutors expressed strong support
and full cooperation for DEA's plans to establish a permanent
presence in the UAE, but they emphasized that the key to
successful collaboration is enhanced information sharing.
Noting that the British often claim that drugs and drug money
from Pakistan and Afghanistan transit the UAE, both Al
Suweidi and Interior Minister Saif said that the EU countries
typically do not provide the UAE enough information to target
these transactions. They expressed hope that DEA would be
more forthcoming. According to Interior Minister Saif, "The
bottom line is we do not have good coordination with the EU,
and we look forward to enhanced cooperation with the U.S."
(Prior to her meeting with MbZ, Tandy met with MbZ's senior
international aide, Yousef al Otaiba. He also reiterated
that the UAEG was more than willing to help the U.S. in its
efforts to identify drug money launders and noted that
increased information sharing would facilitate these efforts.
"You may have one piece of the puzzle, and we may have
another. Without sharing, we might never assemble the
puzzle.")



8. (SBU) Governor Al Suwaidi noted that interagency
cooperation on anti-money laundering extends to all of the
Emirates and to the western borders of the UAE, "even though
we don't know where the borders end these days." (this aside
was a reference to the ongoing border dispute between the UAE
and Saudi Arabia -- ref B). The UAE's National Anti-Money
Laundering Committee (NAMLC), chaired by the Central Bank
Governor, includes officials from the UAE Ministries of
Interior, Justice, Finance, Economy, and Foreign Affairs, as
well as representatives from varying Emirate-level
organizations involved in financial investigations.
Cutting Off Drugs from Source Countries


--------------------------





9. (U) Recognizing that simply eliminating poppy production
in Afghanistan is not sufficient, Governor Al Suweidi
observed that poppy farmers need viable alternative ways to
earn money. He added that just enabling the farmers to
produce other crops is also not sufficient. "In order to
have an income, these farmers need to be able to export their
products, and there may not be a market (for agricultural
products from Afghanistan)."



10. (SBU) The UAE is used as a transit point for narcotics
trafficking primarily from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
According to Yousef al Otaiba, "most drugs that transit the
UAE go on to Saudi Arabia. From there, we don't know where
they go, but we want to stop them from coming through here."
In an effort to stem the flow of narcotics from Pakistan and
Afghanistan, the UAE posted a permanent Drug Liaison Officer
in Islamabad in the late 1990s, and both Interior Minister
Saif and MbZ noted that the UAE DLO has a close working
relationship with U.S. DEA Agents in Pakistan.

UAE Helicopter Offer


--------------------------





11. (C) UAE officials want to assist U.S. and international
efforts to eradicate poppy production and narcotics
trafficking in Afghanistan. In this vein, MbZ told
Administrator Tandy that the UAE Air Force would donate give
seven used Gazelle 5-seater helicopters and their associated
spare parts to the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior's
Narcotics Interdiction Unit (NIU). (Note: Al Otaiba told
Ambassador July 18 that the helicopters are currently not
operational, but that the UAE commits to getting them to
Afghanistan in a state of operational readiness. The
timeline for delivery is uncertain. He also said that the
helicopters could be delivered with or without armament --
depending on how the NIU intended to use them. According to
Jane's Defense Weekly, military loads can include two 68 mm
rockets, four wire-guided missiles, and two forward-firing
machine guns, and photographic and survey equipment can also
be added. The Gazelle helicopter has a maximum cruising
speed of 161 mph, a service ceiling of 16,000 ft, a hovering
ceiling of 9,000 ft, and a 200 mile range with a pilot and
1,000 lb payload. We have asked Al Otaiba for the
specifications of the sevel Gazelle's in question and expect
an answer shortly. Action Request for SA/A, INL/AAE, and
Embassy Kabul: Embassy Abu Dhabi would appreciate feedback on
whether such a donation would meet the NIU's needs and how we
might best pursue this offer with the UAE in terms of urgency
of timing or other considerations.)

UAE Counternarcotics Efforts


--------------------------





12. (U) The UAE pursues an aggressive anti-drug policy that
includes interdiction efforts, harsh penalties for offenders,
rehabilitation programs and public awareness campaigns, and
UAE leaders take the fight against drug use seriously. MbZ
stated that as the father of nine children, he would do all
he can to be sure that none of his -- or anyone else's --
children fall prey to the tragedies of drug abuse. "When we
started developing the UAE, we did not know about the threat
of drugs, but it is here now. And, we have to deal with the
problem. We can't hide it." Comparing it to the threat
posed from Iran, MbZ said, "I believe Iran is our biggest
threat and may be a problem one day, but the threat from
drugs is here now, and the war against drugs is going on now
-- 24 hours a day."



13. (U) Prior to meeting Interior Minister Saif, Tandy
visited with Colonel Mattar Al Muhairy, the Director of the
Ministry of Interior's Criminal Investigations Division
(CID). Al Muhairy described the UAE Ministry of Interior's
recent CID consolidation and reorganization that brought
responsibility for counternarcotics under CID. He also
explained some of the UAE's efforts to combat narcotics
trafficking and use, including increased checkpoints and
border patrols along the UAE's land borders with Oman and
Saudi Arabia. The Ministry has also engaged in a broad
public outreach campaign to educate its population on the
dangers of drug abuse, including a Drug Awareness Week that
coincided with the International Drug Awareness Day. Al
Muhairy also explained the UAE's drug rehabilitation program,
noting that the Ministry takes personal responsibility for
working to rehabilitate Emirati drug users. He said that
ministry officials work with recovering addicts to help them
find jobs and reinsert into society, and meet twice a month
with each drug addict for two years. The Ministry also has a
social team that works with families of addicts for up to six
months. These efforts have helped prevent recidivism among
Emirati national drug users, he said.



14. (U) Al Muhairy, who is also a member of the NAMLC, also
described an interagency counternarcotics team, headed by the
Ministry of Interior, which has representatives from each
Emirate and the relevant UAE agencies. This team meets twice
a month to facilitate speedy responses on counternarcotics
issues and to further develop the personal connections that
enhance interagency communication.

Views of Counterpart DLOs


--------------------------





15. (SBU) During a roundtable discussion with Tandy, the
U.K., Canadian, and Australian drug liaison officers (DLOs)
unanimously agreed that UAE authorities -- and Dubai police
and customs authorities in particular -- have made
significant strides in working to address the drug
transshipment problem. But they noted that drug traffickers
use Dubai as a hub for laundering their profits (particularly
through use of Dubai's robust real estate market). Asked to
take a wild guess about money laundering in Dubai, British
DLO Robert Walker estimated that "in addition to the
legitimate property market, there is an extra layer of the
sector consisting of money laundering. 17-18% of the money
spent by foreigners to purchase freehold properties in Dubai
is with the intent of concealing the source of the money."
Although the authorities are aware that drug money laundering
in the UAE is a problem, they do not know how to address it.
General consensus among the DLOs was that simply providing
training on counternarcotics and drug money laundering will
not be effective. Walker said, "the way to do it is to
stream into the things they are interested in" (ie: by
framing the issue as one of homeland security or regional
stability).



16. (SBU) Walker explained that while drug mules and dealers
are not physically located in the UAE, many of the people
planning drug movements are. Canadian DLO Dennis O'Bryne
noted that with the increased number of Emirates Airlines air
links between Dubai and other international cities -- soon to
include Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro -- the potential for
drugs to be transshipped via the UAE has significantly
increased. He said that although heroin is the main narcotic
shipped through the UAE, he anticipates that cocaine will
eventually come.



17. (SBU) The DLOs agreed that the potential for
collaboration with the UAE is very good, but that it takes
time to make progress in the Emirates. Walker, who noted
that his office had been open in the UAE for nine years,
stated that the UAE has provided evidence for use in UAE
courts, and has closed down money exchanges and seized large
sums of narcotics-related money, based on U.K. information.

Terrorism-Narcotics Links?


--------------------------





18. (C) Tandy noted that trafficking organizations and
terrorists often use the same clandestine routes and methods
to move money, people, weapons, and drugs, but that often
times, the extent of links between terrorists and narcotics
traffickers are unknown. In response to Don Semesky's
explanation of how hawala dealers are regulated in the U.S.,
MbZ responded in his classic blunt manner. Stating that the
U.S. is "too nice," MbZ stated that the U.S. has no need for
hawala and should simply outlaw their operation. He also
reiterated his belief that the U.S. should not allow
individuals released from the U.S. detention facility in
Guantanamo to return to their home countries, where they may
be lauded as heroes by extremists and join-up with them.
"You cannot treat radicals nicely. When someone joins with
extremists, he is no longer a person. He has abandoned his
society and religion." Along the same lines, MbZ stated his
belief that the only way to deter extremism in Iraq and
Afghanistan is to institute and enforce the death penalty.
"You cannot catch someone like Zarqawi and say you will
simply take him to prison." In an discussion about the 15
July Friday sermon condemning terrorism (UAE imams had been
instructed by the UAEG to read verbatim a sermon approved by
the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs unequivocally
condemning acts of terrorism), MbZ told Tandy that the UAE
would soon divide the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
into two ministries (ref C).

Comment


--------------------------





19. (C) Although the UAE has not distinguished between drug
money laundering and other forms of money laundering in the
past, UAE officials link this problem to that of countering
the threat posed by terrorism. Interior Minister Saif boiled
it down in one sentence -- "at the end of the day you will
see a link between drugs, crime, and terrorism." UAE leaders
are committed in their fight against terrorism, and they see
the drug and drug money battle as a part of this bigger
picture. As Minister of Interior Saif said, "the Government
of the UAE sends the clear message that no outlaw should
benefit from the UAE and no other country should suffer from
people in the UAE." Now that senior UAE leaders understand
the depth of the U.S. concern regarding the use of the UAE
financial system by narco-traffickers, we expect to see
increased engagement by the Central Bank's examiners and the
Ministry of Interior's police officers and investigators on
identifying and targeting the proceeds of narcotics
trafficking. End comment.



20. (U) This cable was cleared by DEA Administrator Karen
Tandy.
SISON