ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates would put on trial 41 people for allegedly seeking to overthrow the government to set up a ‘caliphate’ in the Gulf state, prosecutors said on Sunday.
Such mass trials on terrorism charges are rare in the UAE which has largely been spared the militancy that has hit other Arab states.
The suspects, who include Emiratis as well as foreigners, are accused of setting up a group “with a terrorist, takfiri ideology” in a bid to “seize power and establish a caliphate”, according to the prosecutor general.
They are accused of setting up cells to train members in handling weapons and the manufacture of explosives in preparation for attacks on UAE soil.
Prosecutors charge that they were “in contact with foreign terrorist organisations… to help them achieve their goals”.
The UAE is part of the US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against self-styled Islamic State (IS) group in Syria since September last year and has upped security measures since the wave of Arab Spring protests that swept the region four years ago.
In July, following the murder of an American teacher in an Abu Dhabi mall, the authorities enacted tougher anti-terror legislation, including harsher jail terms and even introducing the death penalty for crimes linked to religious hatred and “takfiri groups”.
Takfiris regard Muslims who do not follow their interpretation of Islam as apostates punishable by death. It is the ideology of Al Qaeda as well as the IS.