Syrian accused of terrorist links

Lawyer for a Syrian man accused of joining Al Qaeda-linked groups in Iraq says he should be acquitted because he did not mean to harm the UAE.

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ABU DHABI // A Syrian man accused of joining Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Iraq should be acquitted, his lawyer says.

MK, 26, is accused of training with the terrorist groups Jaysh Al Islami and Al Tawheed Wal Jihad, and of encouraging his co-accused compatriot AS, 26, to join him.

Their lawyer, Ali Al Abbadi, told the State Security Court M K enrolled in the groups in 2003 and left them a few months later, while the UAE's anti-terrorism law was not issued until July 2004.

MK moved to the UAE in 2006.

Mr Al Abbadi claimed MK's involvement in the groups posed no threat to the UAE.

"He also did not mean to harm the country; they were fighting Americans," said Mr Al Abbadi.

AS, accused of knowing about MK's involvement in the group and not reporting it, came to the country to work as a lorry driver in 2008.

He was arrested 10 months ago.

"Until now I don't know what my charges are," he told Chief Justice Shehab Al Hammadi, the head of the State Security Court, yesterday.

AS was on bail after three months in National Security custody and seven months at Al Wathba prison.

MK was arrested as he was trying to board a plane to Syria after the death of his father and siblings in an accident.

A verdict will be issued on April 23.