UAE says arrests cell planning attacks

Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:40pm EST
 
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By Rania El Gamal

DUBAI (Reuters) - Security forces in the United Arab Emirates have arrested a cell of UAE and Saudi Arabian citizens which was planning to carry out militant attacks in both countries and other states, the official news agency WAM said on Wednesday.

The U.S.-allied UAE, a federation of seven emirates and a major oil exporter that has supported Western counter-terrorism efforts in the region, has been spared any attack by al Qaeda and other insurgency groups.

But some of its emirates have seen a rise in Islamist sentiment in recent years, and Dubai, a business and tourism hub and cosmopolitan city that attracts many Westerners, could make an attractive target for Islamist militants, analysts say.

Those arrested had acquired materials and equipment for use in what WAM called terrorist operations.

"The security authorities in the UAE, in coordination with the related security parties in Saudi Arabia, announced the arrest of an organized cell from the deviant group that was planning to carry out actions against national security of both countries and some brotherly states," WAM said without elaborating.

The phrase "the deviant group" is often used by authorities in Saudi Arabia to describe al Qaeda members.

Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdullah told Reuters he believed it was the first time the UAE had announced a suspected attack plot of regional significance.

It "looks like it is a big one, mainly because it includes Emirati citizens and is not confined to the UAE but also has a regional dimension."   Continued...