x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Terrorism conviction for RAK doctor

Security court says he supported al Qa'eda and sentences him to three years in prison.

ABU DHABI // A Pakistani doctor charged with running a jihadist organisation in the UAE and having direct communication with a senior member of al Qa'eda was sentenced today to three years in prison.

The State Security Court, whose verdicts are not subject to appeal, found Dr Akmal Waheed, 49, a project manager at a Ras al Khaimah college, guilty of aiding and abetting al Qa'eda. He was acquitted of running a jihadist organisation.

His brother, AsW, 43, a marketing manager, an alleged accomplice, was acquitted of all charges.

The verdicts were handed down by Chief Justice Shehab al Hammadi.

Waheed and his brother were arrested by UAE security forces at AsW's home in Ras al Khaimah in April, after a tip from the Pakistani authorities.

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 Dr Waheed 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. 

A computer, mobile phone and documents were among materials seized by plainclothes security agents in the raid on AsW's home. Prosecutors say they found a message on Dr Waheed'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.

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

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

Dr Waheed 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 said both Dr Waheed and Sheikh Saeed were in direct communication with al Masri before his death.

Dr Waheed, 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. 

hhassan@thenational.ae