George Aref Nader: Gulf Lobbyist and A Controversial Figure in Political Circles

George Aref Nader: Gulf Lobbyist and A Controversial Figure in Political Circles

George Aref Nader, a Lebanese-American consultant, lobbyist, and political adviser, has a complex history as a repeat sex offender. Beyond his personal misconduct, Nader has also played a significant role as an informal intermediary between United States politicians and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he worked as a lobbyist for the private security firm Blackwater. In 2021, Nader faced charges related to facilitating illicit campaign contributions for the UAE during the 2016 presidential election, marking a significant moment in U.S. politics.

I. Conspiracy to Conceal Funds and Illicit Contributions

According to the prosecutors’ sentencing memo, Nader was involved in a conspiracy to hide funds and advocate for the interests of his client, the government of the United Arab Emirates. The memo disclosed that Nader directly received funds from the UAE government to support unlawful campaign contributions. This raised significant concerns as it was the first time the U.S. government explicitly accused a close ally like the UAE of seeking to influence presidential candidates through illegal contributions.

II. Insights into UAE’s Election Interference and Influence

Nader’s guilty plea provided fresh insights into the efforts of the United Arab Emirates and its de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), to impact the 2016 election’s outcome and shape subsequent U.S. policies in the Gulf region. The government’s memo highlighted Nader and Los Angeles businessperson Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja’s endeavors to establish connections with influential individuals within the Trump campaign. Moreover, Khawaja’s $1 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee raised questions about its source.

III. Allegations of Direct Involvement with UAE Crown Prince and Clinton

Prosecutors alleged that Nader acted on instructions from the UAE crown prince and regularly updated MBZ on his efforts to connect with Clinton. During a Clinton fundraiser organization, Khawaja expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of funds provided by Nader and the UAE. In response, Nader referred to following “HH instruction,” seemingly alluding to “his highness,” indicating MBZ’s involvement. This suggested a significant attempt to influence the political landscape.

IV. Failed Attempts to Arrange Meetings and Involvement with Trump Campaign

Before Trump’s inauguration, Nader unsuccessfully tried to set up a meeting between Trump and MBZ. Instead, UAE officials organized a meeting between MBZ and top Trump campaign figures, including Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and retired Lieut. Gen. Michael Flynn, in New York. A few weeks later, Nader facilitated a meeting between Trump donor Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, in the Seychelles. These events shed light on the UAE’s active involvement in shaping U.S. political engagements.

Federal agents arrested Nader in June 2019 at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he got off a flight from the UAE and charged him with possessing a dozen images or videos of child pornography. Those charges were ultimately dismissed, but Nader was indicted on a separate child pornography possession charge and accused of flying a 14-year-old boy to the U.S. for sexual purposes. 

Nader pleaded guilty to both felony counts, which stemmed from activity that took place in 2012 and 2000, respectively, according to court documents, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and lifetime supervision as a sex offender. Nader also spent a year in prison in the Czech Republic in 2003 for having sex with the same minor he flew to the U.S

George Aref Nader’s actions and connections have had far-reaching consequences in the realm of U.S. politics and international relations. His guilty plea and involvement in various high-level meetings highlight the complexities of foreign influence on American political processes. With the case still unfolding, Nader’s history as a sex offender and his roles as a lobbyist and intermediary have created significant ripples in the world of politics.

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