UAE top court jails six people for seven years for forming 'Qaeda' cell
ABU DHABI - A UAE top court jailed Monday six Arabs for seven years after convicting them of forming an "Al-Qaeda" cell and raising funds for Al-Nusra Front, the jihadist network's Syrian affiliate.
The state security court found the group guilty of "joining Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation and setting up a cell in the UAE... and collecting money to support Al-Nusra Front, to finance terrorist activities outside" the UAE, WAM state news agency said.
A seventh defendant tried in absentia was sentenced to life in prison, WAM said, adding that two other defendants accused of setting up a website to promote the ideas of Al-Qaeda have been acquitted.
The convicted men are five Tunisians, two Palestinians -- one of whom remained at large -- a Jordanian, and a Lebanese national and all aged between 22 and 44, local media reported.
Abu Dhabi said in April 2013 it had dismantled an Al-Qaeda cell planning attacks in the UAE, one of the most stable countries in the Middle East.
Previously, Emirati media outlets had said the defendants, whose trial began on May 6, were accused of plotting attacks in the Gulf state, but the allegations have not been mentioned since.
The UAE, like most of the Gulf monarchies, emerged unscathed from the wave of Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.
But dozens of Emiratis and Egyptians have been jailed in the past months for forming cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt and accused of seeking to overthrow the Gulf monarchies.
Foreigners account for more than 85 percent of the UAE's estimated population of eight million, attracted by work opportunities in the oil-rich country.