Cablegate: C-Sa9-01527: Pakistani and Afghan Expatriate Ties To
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #0874/01 2451156
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 021156Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2893
INFO RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 8414
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0507
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1764
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ABU DHABI 000874
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, NEA/ARP (MCGOVERN) AND INR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2019
TAGS: EFIN ECON EINV PGOV AE
SUBJECT: C-SA9-01527: PAKISTANI AND AFGHAN EXPATRIATE TIES TO
REF: STATE 71311
ABU DHABI 00000874 001.2 OF 003
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR RICHARD OLSON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B AND D).
1. (S) The responses in para 3 are keyed to reftel request. Post
notes that reftel was not addressed to Embassy Abu Dhabi, resulting
in delayed response. Post requests that all cables requiring
action/information on UAE issues be sent to Embassy Abu Dhabi.
2. (S) Structurally, the UAE is a relatively open economy with the
most vibrant financial sector in the Gulf; its federal structure also
gives much economic autonomy to the various emirates, which impose
varying levels of regulation and due diligence on economic activity.
Characteristic of the region, the use of cash is common for
legitimate financial transactions. High volumes of cash and
electronic funds flow both to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the
vast majority of which is derived from legitimate trade and
remittances. The lack of effective border controls on cash is no
doubt exploited by Taliban couriers and Afghan drug lords,
camouflaged among traders, businessmen and migrant workers.
Systemically approaching this issue both in the UAE and in the
broader Gulf region to disrupt Taliban finances, while protecting
commerce and economic activity, is an important, though challenging
task. At the suggestion of the UAEG, we have established joint
US/UAE task force (composed of interagency elements on both sides) to combat illicit financial flows to and from Afghanistan, specifically
bulk cash smuggling.
3. (SBU) Begin reftel responses:
A. (C) HOW MUCH MONEY DO EXPATS SEND BACK TO THEIR HOME COUNTRY IN ANNUAL REMITTANCES?
As the UAEG does not break down remittance statistics by country, it
is difficult to ascertain the total value of funds transferred.
Anecdotal information suggests some expatriates transfer as much as
50 percent of their salary, although there is significant variance.
1) (C) BY WHAT CHANNELS? HOW OFTEN?
Most expatriate residents -- of all nationalities -- who remit funds
to their home country do so through formal exchange houses (like
Western Union and its local competitors) or informal hawala
mechanisms. As most employees are paid monthly, workers generally
transfer funds on a monthly basis.
2) (S) DOES THE HOST GOVERNMENT MONITOR THE MONEY FLOWS? IF SO, HOW?
The UAE Central Bank maintains records of all financial transactions
facilitated by banks, exchange houses and registered hawalas. This
information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, and visa
details of the sending party as well as information on the receiving
party abroad. Similar information is required by Police and Customs
officials for physical cash imports exceeded 40,000 AED
(approximately USD 10,900).
B. (C) WHAT ARE THE METHODS WHEREBY SOUTH ASIANS ARE RECRUITED AND/OR RADICALIZED BY GULF-BASED EXTREMISTS?
Post has limited evidence South Asian expatriates are being recruited
or radicalized in the UAE. There are anecdotal reports that one
Pashtun Afghan community in the UAE may have tribal or religious ties
to the Taliban. UAE authorities are known to observe this group's
activities and occasionally disrupt gatherings.
C. (U) DESCRIBE AFGHAN AND PAKISTANI EXPATS AND LOCAL NATIONAL DONATIONS TO CHARITIES THAT MAY SEND MONEY TO AFGHANISTAN OR PAKISTAN.
Charitable giving ("zakat") is one of the five pillars of Islam, and,
as such, is pervasive in Muslim communities. Donation jars, boxes,
ATMs and pledge cards for the major UAE charities (see 1C) are found
throughout the country. The UAEG does not directly regulate
donations, but rather oversees the establishment and registration of
charitable organizations, disbursal of collected funds and goods
donations. UAE charities primarily make donations abroad in the form
of goods and development projects, not cash.
1) (C) WHICH CHARITIES MIGHT BE ASSOCIATED WITH EXTREMIST GROUPS, TERRORISTS, OR THE AFGHAN OR PAKISTANI GOVERNMENTS?
All legal charitable organizations in the UAE are associated with UAE
government officials and entities. The largest of these groups, the
ABU DHABI 00000874 002.2 OF 003
Red Crescent Authority, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Charitable
Foundation, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, have ongoing charitable activities (including donations of clothing and food, as well as project developments) in Afghanistan and Pakistan in coordination with the UAEG and host governments. There is no evidence any of these groups have ties to extremist groups. In fact, the UAEG actively works to channel zakat from nationals and expatriates to the Red Crescent Authority, whose
activities and employees it monitors closely.
2) (C) DESCRIBE EXPAT AND LOCAL NATIONAL DONATION LEVELS TO THOSE CHARITIES. WHICH ONES ARE MOST POPULAR? WHICH ONES ARE MOST SUSPECTED OF HAVING EXTREMIST, TERRORIST, OR GOVERNMENT TIES?
The major UAE charities receive significant cash and in-kind
donations from senior ruling family members, wealthy Emirati
nationals and small donations from other citizens and expatriates.
Post does not have comprehensive statistics that reveal which
charities are most popular, although the three largest are the only
ones authorized to disburse funds overseas.
Ajman-based Human Appeal is suspected of ties to Hamas.
3) (U) PLEASE PROVIDE INFORMATION ON ANY CHARITIES RUN BY AFGHAN AND PAKISTANI EXPATS.
Not applicable. In order to be registered, charitable groups must be
founded by 20 Emirati nationals.
D. (U) HOW LARGE IS THE POPULATION OF PAKISTANI AND AFGHAN EXPATRIATE WORKERS IN EACH GULF STATE?
There are approximately 1 million Pakistani expatriates and 150,000
Afghan nationals living in the UAE.
1) (U) HOW MANY IN THE SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITY ARE PERMANENT RESIDENTS?
UAE immigration policies do not allow for permanent residence status.
2) (U) HOW MANY ARE GUEST WORKERS?
All expatriates are resident in the UAE on work visas or their
3) (SBU) WHAT IS THEIR ETHNIC AND, WHERE APPROPRIATE, TRIBAL/CLAN MAKE-UP?
Many Pakistanis are low-wage guest workers, predominantly
Pashtun/Pathan. Baluchis have intermarried with Emiratis for
generations, and many Punjabi and Sindhi elites (including President
Zardari) maintain pieds-a-terres in Dubai.
Most Afghan residents are believed to be Pashtun.
E. (C) WHAT LINKS DO THEY HAVE WITH POLITICAL PARTIES, INSURGENTS, OR OTHER EXTREMISTS IN AFGHANISTAN OR PAKISTAN?
While it can be assumed that the Pakistani and Afghani populations in
the UAE represent a wide range of political views, political activism
among expatriates is discouraged by UAE authorities.
F. (SBU) WHO ARE THE KEY LEADERS WITHIN THESE COMMUNITIES?
Key leaders are prominent and successful businessmen. Given
instability at home, many Afghan and Pakistani business leaders and
political figures and their families use the UAE, and Dubai in
particular, as a part-time residence and are active in their
respective expatriate communities. Among uneducated and unskilled
workers, leaders likely emerge along tribal and societal lines.
1) (SBU) WHAT PROMINENT MOSQUES OR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS DO THESE EXPATRIATES BELONG TO? DESCRIBE THE MOSQUES' ACTIVITIES AND RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT, PEOPLE, OR EXTREMIST GROUPS IN
AFGHANISTAN OR PAKISTAN.
All mosques operate under the direct supervision of the UAEG. None
have ties to Afghanistan or Pakistan, aside from the nationalities of
congregants. All sermons and announcements in UAE mosques are
tightly controlled by the UAE Government.
2) (U) DO EXPATS FOLLOW PROMINENT PAKISTANI, AFGHAN, OR GULF CLERICS? IF SO, WHICH ONES, AND WHY? WHICH PAKISTANI AND AFGHAN CLERICS HAVE THE LARGEST FOLLOWING AMONG EXPATRIATES IN GULF STATES?
ABU DHABI 00000874 003.2 OF 003
A) (SBU) WHERE DID PROMINENT CLERICAL LEADERS RECEIVE THEIR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND WHAT SCHOOL OF THOUGHT DO THEY LOOK TO FOR RELIGIOUS GUIDANCE (DEOBANDI, BARELVI, AHL-E HADITH, SALAFI, ETC.)?
There are no known Pakistani or Afghani clerics in the UAE. The Imam
who delivers the English language Friday sermon in Abu Dhabi (i.e.,
the language of many South Asians, is American).
B) (C) DESCRIBE CLERICS' POLITICAL ACTIVITIES IN GULF STATES, PAKISTAN, OR AFGHANISTAN.
All clerics/imams are supervised by the UAEG and are not involved in
3) (U) WHO ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL OR WEALTHY BUSINESSMEN IN THESE COMMUNITIES? WHAT TYPES OF BUSINESSES ARE THEY INVOLVED IN?
There are a number of successful Pakistani and Afghan businessmen
resident in the UAE who are involved in a wide range of trading and
4) (C) WHAT LINKS DO THE BUSINESS LEADERS HAVE WITH CLERICS OR EXTREMISTS AT HOME? DESCRIBE ANY ROLE THEY MAY PLAY IN RAISING, HOLDING, OR DISPERSING FUNDS FROM THE EXPAT COMMUNITY?
Post has no evidence that business leaders are engaged in fundraising
or other ties to extremists, although we would not be surprised if it
G. (U) HOW DO EXPATS VIEW THE TALIBAN AND OTHER EXTREMISTS IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY? WHAT ASPECTS OF THESE GROUPS' PLATFORMS AND ACTIVITIES DO PAKISTANI AND AFGHAN EXPATRIATES ADMIRE OR REJECT?
H. (U) HOW DO EXPATS VIEW THEIR GOVERNMENTS IN KABUL OR ISLAMABAD?
Many wealthy Afghans and Pakistanis tell EmbOffs that they choose to
live in the UAE rather than their corrupt and/or failing countries.
Others, particularly those with political ties, are committed to
eventually returning home to help re-build their countries, but
choose to temporarily live in Dubai out of concern for their
I. (S) PLEASE DESCRIBE ANY STEPS THE HOST GOVERNMENTS HAVE TAKEN OR PLANS THEY MIGHT HAVE TO MONITOR OR INFLUENCE THESE EXPAT POPULATIONS.
For national security reasons, the UAEG closely monitors all
expatriates, particularly those from Pakistan (the largest expat
community in the UAE) and Afghanistan (given concerns about
extremism/terrorism). The specific plans are not known.
J. (S) TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THE U.S. EMBASSIES WORKING WITH OTHER THIRD-COUNTRY OFFICIAL PERSONNEL TO GATHER INFORMATION ON AND ATTEMPT TO ADDRESS THIS SUBJECT AREA (I.E. THE TRACKING AND STEMMING OF
TERRORIST FINANCING FLOWS TO INSURGENT GROUPS IN
Emboffs have regular exchanges with like-minded countries on
financial crimes matters, although historically these efforts have
focused on al-Qaida and Iran. There has been ongoing cooperation
with like-minded embassies regarding efforts to disrupt drug
trafficking and related money laundering through the UAE.
K. (SBU) PLEASE REPORT ON THE TYPES OF MEDIA FOLLOWED AND/OR PARTICIPATED IN BY AFGHAN AND PAKISTANI EXPATRIATES IN SAUDI ARABIA AND THE GULF STATES.
Pakistani nationals are employed at some of the major English
language newspapers and satellite television stations based in the