UAE Arrests 41 on Terror Charges

UAE Arrests 41  on Terror ChargesUAE Arrests 41  on Terror Charges

The United Arab Emirates is to try 41 people on charges of seeking to overthrow the government to set up an Islamic State group-style caliphate, prosecutors said on Sunday.

The suspects, who include Emiratis as well as foreigners, are accused of setting up a group "with a terrorist, takfiri ideology to seize power and establish a caliphate," the country's prosecutor general said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency, AFP reported.

They are accused of setting up cells to train members in handling weapons and the manufacture of explosives in preparation for attacks on UAE soil.

Such mass trials on terrorism charges are rare in the UAE that has largely been spared the militancy that has hit other Arab states.

Prosecutors charge that they were "in contact with foreign terrorist organizations ... to help them achieve their goals."

The UAE is part of a US-led coalition that has been carrying out airstrikes against IS in Syria since September last year.

Last month, it adopted new legislation imposing heavy prison terms or even the death penalty for those convicted of membership of "takfiri" groups.

Takfiris regard Muslims who do not follow their extreme interpretation of Islam as apostates punishable by death. It is the ideology of Al-Qaeda as well as IS.

Arab States on High Alert

A series of blasts and bombings in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the past few months has destabilized the region's security and put Persian Gulf Arab states on high alert.

In May, an IS-affiliated suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing four people, only a week after the extremist group claimed a similar attack of another Shia mosque that killed 21 worshippers.

The IS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by its “Najd Province,” referring to a region in the central Arabian Peninsula.

In June, a suicide attack on the Imam Sadeq (PBUH) Mosque in Kuwait City killed 26 people and wounded 227, in what was described as Kuwait’s worst militant attack aimed at stoking sectarian strife in the majority Sunni state.

IS claimed responsibility for the blast. Kuwait identified a Saudi national as the assailant behind the deadly attack later that month.

Kuwait's Interior Ministry said last month it had broken up a five-member cell of alleged IS members.

The Saudi government also announced last month it had broken up planned IS attacks in the kingdom and arrested 431 suspects in an anti-terrorism sweep, a day after a powerful blast in neighboring Iraq killed more than 100 people in one of the country’s deadliest single attacks since US troops pulled out in 2011.

The Saudi Interior Ministry also said they thwarted a suicide bomb attack on a large mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia in July that can hold 3,000 worshippers, along with multiple planned attacks on other mosques and diplomatic and security bodies.