US ambassador to UAE believes warning issued to American citizens not linked to Reem murder

US officials do not believe that a woman stabbed to death last week was targeted because of her American nationality, the US ambassador has said.
US. Ambassador Michael H. Corbin speaks during an interview at his official residence in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
US. Ambassador Michael H. Corbin speaks during an interview at his official residence in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Ibolya Ryan, the teacher stabbed to death at Boutik Mall last week, was not killed because she was American, the departing US ambassador to the UAE said on Monday.

Michael Corbin said that US authorities believed the suspect, an Emirati in her thirties, was looking for anyone who seemed to be “representing the West”.

“It’s based on a person who’s looking for people representing the West, which she believed was acting in a way that she disagreed with,” said Mr Corbin.

The kindergarten teacher and mother of three was murdered last week in the ladies’ rest-room near Waitrose supermarket on Reem Island. Police said the suspect later planted a bomb in front of the home of an Egyptian-American doctor.

Mr Corbin said US authorities did not believe the killing was connected to a warning issued in October about American schools and teachers in the region after a global threat.

“The global warning talked about threats to Americans. We are leading the coalition against ISIL so of course we are going to warn our citizens what that means,” he said.

“But we are very satisfied with the investigation the UAE Government is conducting.”

Mr Corbin said the US was “very saddened” that the victim was a teacher and a mother of three, and congratulated the UAE on its quick arrest of a suspect.

He said the US regarded the UAE as having a very good record of protecting citizens and guests.

A security source told the state news agency Wam on Sunday that investigations had shown no suggestion that the suspect had links with terrorist groups or political parties that could be blamed for inciting her to commit the crime.

The source said the suspect had not intentionally set out to target Americans or people of any other nationality, but was looking for anyone who seemed foreign.

Mr Corbin said that during his time here he had seen “very secure and stable” developments.

“The incident last week was an anomaly,” he said.

Republicans in the US are worried that there will be more violence in the region if a Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques is released this week.

But Mr Corbin believed most of the information in it was already known.

Mr Corbin served for more than three years as ambassador to the UAE and will be replaced by Barbara Leaf, who was deputy assistant secretary for the Arabian Peninsula at the State Department.

He said he was very proud to have served as ambassador to a country that was a leader in the region, particularly in its efforts against extremism.

Mr Corbin, who planned to work in the UAE in the private sector, said he was pleased that during his term the number of Emirati students in the US had increased and that a new Dubai consulate had opened.

Almost 2,800 Emiratis were studying in the US this year – a rise of 23 per cent from last year, he said.

“I’m very proud with what I’ve done with bringing the US business value proposition to the UAE, getting US companies focused on opportunities here,” said Mr Corbin.

Travel between the UAE and US had also been made easier through shortened visa processes and a pre-clearance facility at airports here, he said.

Mr Corbin began his term in July 2011 after serving in countries including Iraq, Syria and Egypt.

On Sunday, Sheikh Khalifa, the President, conferred the First Class Independence Order on Mr Corbin in appreciation for his efforts during his tenure in the country, which contributed effectively to the development of friendship and cooperation between the UAE and the US.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Published: December 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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