x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Terror suspect ISIL ‘emir’, judge hears

Man before Federal Supreme Court on seven charges appointed himself extremist group’s UAE representative.

ABU DHABI // An Emirati man on trial for plotting bomb attacks and an assassination in the UAE appointed himself as the emir of ISIL in the country, the Federal Supreme Court heard on Monday.

M A H, 34, husband of Reem Island killer Alaa Al Hashemi, who was executed last year for the murder of American teacher Ibolya Ryan, is charged with seven terror-related offences. These included a plan to bomb Yas Marina Circuit and Ikea, as well as plans to assassinate one of the UAE’s leaders.

A forensics expert from the Ministry of Justice told the judge that a computer belonging to the accused, and an external hard disk he used, contained hundreds of videos that included explosives-making tutorials and other extremist content.

The expert said the videos included tutorials on making C4 plastic bombs, aluminium explosives and other varieties.

Lectures by ISIL leader Abu Baker Al Baghdadi and the group’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed Al Adnani, were also found on his devices.

“My assessment of his Acer computer and Western Digital passport also showed a folder titled ebooks that contained tutorials on how to encrypt messages. It also contained documents listing the UAE’s federal laws and regulations,” the expert said.

T N, a witness from state security, told the judge that M A H had been known to authorities for his radical views from as far back as 2003.

The witness told the court that the accused had influenced his wife by showing her videos of extremist ideologies, but the judge instructed the witness to focus on the points relevant to the case at hand and not the wife, who was also convicted of terror offences including the attempted murder of an Egyptian-American doctor, outside whose flat she left a homemade bomb.

The accused refuted the witness’s claims, saying he was not with Al Hashemi at the time.

“I married Alaa, may her soul rest in peace, in 2005 or 2006. There’s no way that I could have been influencing her for this long,” he said.

“She was also suffering from a range of mental and personality disorders such as schizophrenia, your honour.”

M A H also posted photos of the UAE’s leaders with slanderous remarks and details of his plans to harm them online, the witness said.

He told the judge that the accused and his wife performed a symbolic ceremony to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIL, and that M A H appointed himself as the group’s true representative in the UAE.

The accused and his wife were adamant that they would join a terror organisation, the witness said, befriending several people M A H met on extremist websites to help him to achieve his goal.

“The accused travelled to Mecca to perform Umrah and, during his trip, he met an Al Qaeda online acquaintance who used the nickname Abu Majed,” T N said.

The accused had reportedly donated a large sum of money to help finance Al Qaeda.

Other evidence found included photographs of the landmarks he was targeting.

At the end of the hearing, M A H asked to be allowed more time to speak with his lawyer.

“I only had 40 minutes last time and that wasn’t enough,” he told the judge, although no definitive answer was given.

The case was adjourned to February 22.

nalremeithi@thenational.ae