x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Brothers 'ran jihadi group to aid al Qa'eda'

Two Pakistanis deny recruiting for jihad, sending equipment to militants in Waziristan and having direct links to terrorist finance chief.

ABU DHABI // Two brothers from Pakistan ran a jihadi organisation in the UAE and had direct communication with a senior member of al Qa'eda, the State Security Court was told yesterday.

AkW, 49, a project manager, and AsW, 43, a marketing manager, were arrested by UAE security forces at AsW's home in Ras al Khaimah in April, after a tip-off from the Pakistani authorities.

Chief Justice Shehab al Hammadi announced the names of the two brothers in the State Security Court yesterday.

They are charged with running a jihadi organisation and aiding and abetting al Qa'eda. The court was told that their organisation aimed to collect money for al Qa'eda and recruit people for jihadi operations, and that the brothers confessed to having links with the Islamist terrorist group.

Prosecutors say AkW sent two laptop computers, two telescopes, two pencil torches, two Swiss army knives and a tent to Waziristan in northwest Pakistan on different occasions in the past two years.

The equipment, prosecutors say, was meant for Islamist militants in Pakistan. His brother is accused of being an accomplice.

A computer, mobile phone and documents were among materials seized by plain-clothed security agents in the raid on AsW's home. Prosecutors say they found a message on Dr AkW's computer in Urdu that he sent to Mustafa al Masri, an Egyptian alleged to have been the financial chief of al Qa'eda before he was killed in a US drone airstrike in Pakistan in May.

AkW told the court he categorically denied any terrorism charges, and said all his actions were done out of goodwill.

He told prosecutors that he sent the equipment in question to his two nephews as part of their professional work with Tanzeem e Islami, an Islamic religious organisation based in Lahore.

AkW said Tanzeem e Islami, established 35 years ago by the religious scholar Dr Israr Ahmed, had a social relief wing headed by Sultan Hafiz, also known as Sheikh Saeed.

He said he provided medical care to injured people in Waziristan as part of the organisation's relief works. His two nephews had medical training and worked for Sheikh Saeed, he said.

The prosecution say that both AkW and Sheikh Saeed were in direct communication with Mustafa al Masri before his death.

AkW, who lives in Karachi, came to the UAE in July 2008 on a two-year sabbatical and was due to travel back to Pakistan in July this year. The two brothers have been in Al Wathba prison since October 10.

Both told the court their confessions to having links with al Qa'eda had been obtained under duress.

They were represented in court by three Emirati lawyers, one of whom asked the justices to adjourn the case until a defence was prepared.

The request was granted, and the case continues.