DUBAI • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities plan to try 41 people of various nationalities, including Emiratis, on charges of setting up a terrorist group, the official WAM news agency reported on Saturday, adding that the suspects wanted to set up a caliphate.
The suspects had weapons and explosives, and had been in touch with militant groups abroad, the agency quoted Attorney-General Salem Saeed Kubaish as saying in a statement. "Investigations showed that they set up and managed a terrorist group inside the country... to carry out terrorist acts on its territories," he said, adding that the suspects called themselves the Minaret Youth Group.
The statement did not name the organisations which the suspects had allegedly contacted. But Gulf Arab states are on alert for attempts by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group to carry out threats it has made to stage attacks on their soil.
The Sunni militant group has attacked Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in recent weeks, killing dozens. ISIS views Shi'ites as heretics and wants to expel them from the Arabian Peninsula.
"They were planning to harm public and private institutions, take power in the UAE and create a caliphate that matches their ideologies," Mr Kubaish said. "They had firearms, munitions and explosive materials... They communicated with external terrorist groups and organisations which provided them with whatever money they needed and with people to achieve their goals inside the nation."
Last month, the UAE adopted new legislation imposing heavy prison terms or even the death penalty for those convicted of membership of "takfiri" groups.
Takfiris regard Muslims who do not follow their extreme interpretation of Islam as apostates punishable by death.
It is the ideology of Al-Qaeda as well as ISIS.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE