ABU DHABI // The founder of a terrorist group that planned to bomb malls and hotels has been sent to jail for life, along with 10 other members.
Khalid Abdulla Kalantar considered himself a caliph and preached extremist ideology at Al Manara Mosque in Dubai.
Kalantar focused on young social outcasts with criminal records, to recruit them to his group, Shabab Al Manara.
The group had an arsenal including Kalashnikov assault rifles, hand grenades and landmines hidden in the desert.
Kalantar was one of 41 men on trial at the Federal Supreme Court for involvement in the group. They included four of his sons – Abdullah and Othman who were given life sentences, and Abdulrahman and Mohammed who were given 10 years.
Fifty-seven family members attended the sentencing in the capital on Sunday amid tight security. A wife of one of the men jailed for life collapsed and had to be helped by paramedics.
During interrogation, the members said they were influenced by watching films and lectures by the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Prosecutors said all confessed to joining Shabab Al Manara and intending to use terrorism to oust the Government, but only two pleaded guilty in court.
In sentencing, Judge Mohammed Al Jarrah Al Tunaiji said: “Terrorism is one of the gravest of crimes. It uses religion as a pretext to achieve its goals.
“It doesn’t believe in national or human values and does not abide by laws or agreements. Countries are working collectively to eradicate terror through laws and agreements.
“This case is one of the most important that the Federal Supreme Court has dealt with and it has taken months, but the court was able to establish who founded, who joined and who participated in the group.”
Judge Al Tunaiji ordered that the weapons be destroyed.
The other eight jailed for life: Mohammed Al Bloushi, Kalantar’s Emirati second in command; Ahmed Yousuf, who holds a Comoros Islands passport; Iranian Abdulaziz Ahmed Ismail; and Emiratis Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Abdulrahman Hussain Al Marzouqi and Mohamed Abdullatif Al Zaraooni. Emiratis Mansour Ali Al Shahari and Mohamed Abdullatif Al Zarooni were sentenced in their absence.
The whereabouts of the two is unknown.
Jailed for 10 years, along with Kalantar’s sons, were Emiratis Jassim Al Bulooshi, Ibrahim Belshalat, Mohammed Al Raeesi, Khalil Al Shemaili, Hassan Bellaith, Saeed Sumbakh, Naser Al Afifi, Ahmed Al Hammadi and Ali Al Bloushi, and Iranian Khalid Qashmi and Ezz Al Dein Makhlouta from Syria.
Emiratis Ghanim Al Marri and Assem Al Naqbi were given 15-year jail sentences for fighting in international terrorist organisations.
Mohamed Ahli, Nayef Al Mulla, Eissa Al Bloushi, Ahmed Al Ahmed, Ali Al Bloushi and Mansour Al Naqbi, all Emiratis, were jailed for three years.
Their compatriots Abed Al Shaer and Omar Al Janahi were jailed for five years.
Ahmed Al Bloushi, Abdulrahman Belshalat, Ali Al Bloushi, Jumaa Al Bloushi, Suhail Al Bloushi, Abdullatif Al Ahmed and Saleh Al Bloushi, all Emiratis, were acquitted of all charges.
The UAE established its anti-terror laws in 2004.