Abu Dhabi: A Qatari cell, said to have been operating in the UAE under the direct supervision of Qatari intelligence, has been smashed, Gulf News has learnt.

“A group of Qatari men, directly overseen and controlled by the Qatari intelligence was arrested in the UAE,” a senior official told Gulf News.

The official added the cell had been attempting to re-establish Al Islah group, linked to Egypt’s terrorist designated Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Islah was disbanded after more than 65 people accused of plotting an Islamist coup in the UAE were handed prison terms — some up to 15 years — last year. Twenty six of the defendants were acquitted.

The official said the Qatari cell had also been planning to recruit members and raise money for Jabhat Al Nusra, an Al Qaida-linked rebel group in Syria fighting troops loyal to President Bashar Al Assad.

Last month, the State Security Section at the Federal Supreme Court sentenced Raafat Mohammad Harb, a Palestinian, to life imprisonment for establishing and running an Al Qaida-linked terrorist cell.

Harb, nicknamed Abu Obaida, was sentenced in absentia as he has fled the country.

The court also sentenced six other men to seven years in jail each for aiding and abetting the terrorist group.

Wadie’ Abdul Qader, 33, a Tunisian, and Badr Nader Mohammad Gazawi, 22, a Jordanian, were also fined Dh1 million each.

The prisoners will be deported after serving their sentences, the court ruled.

Two of the accused were acquitted of the charges.

A Qatari doctor received a seven-year jail sentence in March in the UAE after being convicted of ties to Al Islah group.

He was convicted along with two others. A fourth person was acquitted.

Qatar heavily supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under ousted President Mohammad Mursi, angering the UAE.

Tough measures

Sources said the Qatari group will be tried under articles 180, 181 and 182 of the UAE Penal Code, which state that temporary imprisonment shall be inflicted on any person who institutes, founds, organises or runs a society, corporation, association, organisation, group, gang, or a subsidiary thereof of whatever name, aimed at overthrowing, seizing, or opposing the basic principles supporting the government regime in the State, or preventing any institution of the state or any public authority from exercising its functions, or attempting at the citizens’ personal or other freedom or public rights guaranteed by the constitution or law, or harming the national unity or social peace.

“A jail term of not more than ten years shall be inflicted on any person who joins a society, corporation, association or the organisations stated in the first paragraph of this article or cooperates there with or participated therein in any manner or provides them with any financial or material aid whilst being aware of their purposes,” according to article 180 of the Penal Code.

The UAE is stepping up its fight against terrorism with tough measures, including capital punishment, life imprisonment and fines of up to Dh100 million.