x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

American on terrorist charges has links with al Qa'eda, court told

A Lebanese American who faces terrorism charges is linked to al Qa'eda, the Federal Supreme Court was told yesterday.

ABU DHABI // A Lebanese American who faces terrorism charges is linked to al Qa'eda, the Federal Supreme Court was told yesterday. Naji Hamdan, 43, is charged with promoting terrorism, participating in the work of a terrorist organisation and funding a terrorist organisation. Details of the charges, all relating to alleged activity outside the UAE, emerged for the first time yesterday.

A lawyer for the State Security Public Prosecution told the court: "Naji Hamdan is directly linked to Ansar al-Sunna and al Qa'eda members through electronic communication." Ansar al-Sunna is a militant Sunni faction in Iraq connected to al Qa'eda. Mr Hamdan was arrested at his Dubai home in August last year and was held without trial until June when his case was brought before the Federal Supreme Court.

Formal charges were laid at the first hearing, on June 14, at which Mr Hamdan, an American citizen, claimed he had been tortured and forced to sign a confession. Yesterday, the prosecution cited his arrest and interrogation in Lebanon on August 1 last year. Mr Hamdan previously told The National that, while he was questioned by the FBI in the United States and Abu Dhabi weeks before his arrest in Dubai, he was not charged with anything in the US. He was released from Lebanon without charge after four days of custody.

Mr Hamdan moved to the US as a student and set up a car business before moving to the UAE in 2006 to do the same work. His defence lawyer requested an adjournment to allow time to respond to the allegations. The trial will resume on September 14. myoussef@thenational.ae