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UAE Arrests Al-Qaida-Linked 'Terrorist Cell'

  • VOA News

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have arrested seven people they say are part of an al-Qaida-linked terrorist cell.

The official WAM news agency said Thursday the group was "planning to carry out acts" in the UAE, as well as to recruit others and promote al-Qaida.

It said the seven people arrested were of "Arab nationalities" but did not give additional details.

The statement also said the group was providing money and logistical support to help al-Qaida further its activities in the region.

Middle East Policy Council Executive Director Thomas Mattair says support for Islamist extremism is rife throughout the region. He says counter-terrorism efforts, while successful in some areas, tend to drive recruits across borders.

"The Saudis, the Emiratis, they cooperate with us strenuously to root out these people and there have been successes in both countries," he said. "But the result is that a lot of [the terrorists] have been driven into Yemen, and that's really where the problem is most critical. They could have been transiting the UAE on their way somewhere else, possibly to Syria."

Mattair says when Sunni Arabs across the region see their co-religionists under siege in Syria, which drives some into the hands of extremist groups.

In December, UAE authorities arrested what they called a "deviant group" in connection with a terrorist cell planning attacks in the Gulf kingdom, Saudi Arabia and nearby states.

Mattair says that a serious U.S. commitment to helping push the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to resolution would deprive al-Qaida of a major source of propaganda.

Mattair says al-Qaida recruitment videos feature Palestinians or Iraqis who it says have been killed and that the group "blames [their deaths] on the United States."
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