The Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi where the trial is being held. Picture is used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AHMED KUTTY/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Three agents of the Lebanon-based terrorist Hezbollah group — two Lebanese and an Emirati — were sentenced to life, while four other members of the terrorist group were handed up to 15 years in prison, a top UAE court ruled on Monday.

The Federal Supreme Court, presided over by judge Falah Al Hajeri, sentenced A.H.A.A. and A.H.A., from Lebanon, and H.A.H., an Emirati, to life in prison for setting up a terrorist Hezbollah cell in the UAE in association with agents of the Lebanon-based terrorist Hezbollah group and spying for the terrorist group.

Two other agents, S.A.A., an Iraqi, and A.A.M., a Lebanese, were sentenced to 15 years in jail, while F.A., a Canadian-Egyptian woman and M.S.A., an Emirati, were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The court in April heard that agents of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Tehran’s most powerful security and military organisation, set up a terrorist Hezbollah cell in the UAE in association with agents of the Lebanon-based terrorist Hezbollah group.

A prosecution witness told the court that the sleeper cell had worked in the UAE since 2004 until it was busted in 2013, when it turned active.

“The terrorist cell used sex and alcohol to recruit a group of agents, including H.A.S.H., an Emirati who communicated classified information to Hezbollah spies,” the witness told the court.

The witness added that the defendant passed on information about government, security, military and economic institutions as well as UAE’s arms deals with various countries to the Hezbollah agents.

The man, the witness said, also furnished sensitive information about political, security and business leaders to the Hezbollah agents.

“The intelligence services of Iran and Hezbollah gathered the information with a view to targeting sensitive locations in the UAE,” the witness told the court.

“The Emirati men were photographed naked and under the influence of alcohol and the clips were later used to recruit them by the intelligence of Iran and Hezbollah,” the witness told the court.

The witness added the woman was an engineer in a major oil company and passed on classified information about oil and gasfields.

“The woman also worked as a freelance photographer with two magazines, furnished pictures and information about Emirati leaders to the Hezbollah agents,” the witness said.

The General Prosecutor told the court that the accused established and managed an international group belonging to Lebanon-based Hezbollah without official permission or licences.

The court also sentenced in absentia Essam Al Erian, a leading member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, to five years in jail followed by deportation.

In April, three men charged with setting up an affiliate of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group in the UAE were sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by deportation.

The men were found guilty of setting up an office of the militant group in the UAE and carrying out commercial, economic and political activities without licences, the court ruled.

In November 2014, the UAE branded 80 groups as terrorist organisations, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh in line with a federal law on combating terrorism. Hezbollah also figured in the list, including Shiite Hezbollah in the Gulf states and brigades with the same name in Iraq.

The list includes Muslim Brotherhood’s local and regional affiliates, as well as Al Qaida-linked groups operating in different parts of the region.

Several brigades fighting on both sides in the Syrian conflict along with Islamist groups in Libya, Tunisia, Mali, Pakistan, Nigeria’s Boko Haram as well as Afghanistan’s Taliban account for the bulk of the list.

The move followed a similar step taken by Saudi Arabia in March 2014.

In another case, an Emirati woman, A.M.A.A. was sentenced to five years in jail, while her brother, M.M.A.A., got seven years in prison for joining terrorist organisations in Syria, promoting terrorist ideology of these organisations and insulting the UAE foreign policy and high officials through websites in social media (Twitter and Facebook).

An Iranian man, S.M.A.M., charged with breaking sanctions then imposed on Iran through exporting power generators to his country from a port in the UAE, had his hearing adjourned to December 12.

In another case, H.S., charged with joining the terrorist group Daesh, had his hearing adjourned to November 14, when a ruling is set to be issued.