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UAE to try 41 on charges of seeking ‘Caliphate’

They are accused of setting up cells to train members in handling weapons and the manufacture of explosives

Published: Updated:

The United Arab Emirates is to try 41 people on charges of seeking to overthrow the government to set up an ISIS group-style caliphate, prosecutors said on Sunday.

Such mass trials on terrorism charges are rare in the UAE which has largely been spared the Islamic 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 (Sunni Muslim extremist) ideology," in a bid to "seize power and establish a caliphate," the prosecutor general said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

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 organizations... to help them achieve their goals."

The UAE is part of the U.S.-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against ISIS in Syria since September last year.

Last month, it 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.