‘Terrorists planned to bomb mall’

Forty-one men are on trial in the Federal Supreme Court charged for belonging to an illegal organisation called Shabab Al Manara that aimed to create as ISIL-like caliphate in the UAE.

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ABU DHABI // A group of men who wanted to create an Islamic state in the country also planned assassinations and bombings at malls and hotels, a court heard on Monday.

Forty-one men are on trial in the Federal Supreme Court charged with belonging to an illegal organisation called Shabab Al Manara that aimed to create a caliphate in the UAE.

Three of them are being tried in their absence.

R S, a state security investigator, said the group had a plan to overthrow the Government, which involved recruiting “social outcasts or those with criminal records” and then taking them on activities such as camping to brainwash them into wanting to fight.

When the Arab Spring happened in 2011, however, the group rejected establishing a caliphate and started to plan bomb attacks on malls, hotels and other public areas. Their plans were thwarted by their arrests.

Group leader K A K also devised ways to collect donations for other foreign terrorist organisations, in the hope that they would later assist in the overthrow of the UAE Government, the court was told.

“The defendant had a way of reeling people in and he used his role as a preacher in Al Manara Mosque in Dubai to encourage people to fight and to show displeasure towards the Government,” said R S.

“Then they saw who took in the information and discussed other greater topics with them about Arab tyrants to see how responsive they were.

“To recruit the youth, the group took them through an allegiance process in which they vowed to be loyal to K A K.”

R S said the group had planned to both financially support and supply members to Jabhat Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Syria. Five men had travelled to join the group and some died fighting, including K A K’s son in Iraq.

The group also had numerous weapons in their possession, including two Kalashnikov rifles, two submachine-guns, a taser gun and air rifles.

R N, another state security officer, said the accused were known for criticising the Government, and group members were explicitly banned from celebrating National Day.

He said K A K also convinced members to quit their government jobs and gave one of them a job at Al Arqam School.

The witness said K A K used the school to recruit other youths, and allowed the members to register their children in it.

After their arrest, K A K, his son A K A, and M H D, had taken the investigation team to Al Rifaa desert in Ras Al Khaimah where they had stashed the weapons in the sand, R N said.

“We had police dogs and technical equipment to aid us. Then we dug manually to find four large barrels in two-metre deep holes. The defendants guided us to the area. However, when questioned, they remained silent.”

K A K also requested to address the court.

“The whole hearing is about me so I need to defend myself, I must get the chance to question the witness,” he said.

He then cursed the court, which led the other defendants to also curse loudly and chaos erupted in the courtroom.

“We will give everyone the chance for defence but in an orderly fashion,” Judge Mohammed Al Jarrah Al Tenaiji said. “It is our duty to give you justice because it is you right and we will be questioned by Allah.”

The case was adjourned to December 8, when a video of the RAK trip will be shown and the public prosecution will present its argument.