Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have broken up an Al-Qaeda cell comprising seven Arabs who were plotting attacks in the Gulf state, an official statement said on Thursday.
The UAE is one of the most stable countries in the Middle East and has so far not seen any attacks by Al-Qaeda. It has also been spared in the wave of Arab Spring uprisings.
The cell was “plotting acts that would have harmed the security of the country, its citizens and foreign residents,” said the statement carried by state news agency WAM.
The group was also involved in “recruiting people” for Al-Qaeda and providing the jihadist organisation with “money and logistic support”.
It was also “trying to extend its activities to reach some other countries in the region,” the statement said, without elaborating.
The seven are of “Arab nationalities,” and will be questioned and put on trial, it said.
The population of the UAE, estimated at over eight million, comprises nearly 90 percent foreigners lured by work opportunities in the wealthy country.
Authorities announced in December busting a cell of Saudi and Emirati members plotting “terror” attack in the two countries and other states. They were described as members of the “deviant group,” a term usually used in Saudi Arabia to refer to Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists.
The UAE is already trying 94 Emiratis, including 13 women, over accusations of plotting to seize power, in the largest trial in the history of the federation of sheikhdoms formed in 1971.
Authorities accuse the Islamists of links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in the Gulf state.
The UAE also arrested a group of Egyptians in December and accused them of links to the Muslim Brotherhood, collecting sensitive intelligence about the UAE, and having ties to the Emirati Islamists on trial.
Human Rights Watch said 13 Egyptians were in custody. UAE authorities at the time of the arrests put the number at 11.