The UAE is committed to combat violent extremism and the list of designated terrorist organisations reflects the country’s position on the growing trend of foreign fighters joining terrorist groups, including Daesh and Al Qaida, according to analysts.
“The UAE’s action is in line with the new counter-terrorism law and resolutions passed by the UN Security Council that demand member nations take action to prevent foreign fighters from travelling to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups such as Daesh and Al Qaida,” Dr Ebtisam Al Ketbi, chairwoman of Emirates Policy Centre, told Gulf News yesterday.
Dr Ebtisam said the expanded list of designated terror groups shows the UAE addresses the root causes of the threat of terrorism, which requires the pursuit of a comprehensive international strategy that prevents recruitment.
“The UAE has called for a swift and decisive strategy to fight extremism, that is expanding beyond the Middle East to the rest of the world,” Dr Ebtisam said.
Dr Ebtisam said the stigmatised groups include violent non-state actors, which use violence to reach their goals. “The banned groups also include proxy terror actors and front organisations that give others the funding, training, and weapons to carry out terrorist acts.”
The UAE Cabinet on Sunday designated as terrorists 85 extremist groups such as Al Qaida, Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood, and its regional and local affiliates, as well as other regional and international groups.
The UAE is a signatory to 13 international treaties on terrorism.
Dr Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Risk Insurance Management, a Dubai-based consultancy involving assessments and remedies, said the Cabinet decision is extremely important because it supports efforts to curb terrorism financing and encourages other nations to do the same.
“These extremist groups promote a hateful ideology that needs to be stamped out and this action will stigmatise and isolate designated terrorist organisations locally, regionally and internationally,” Dr Karasik said.
He stressed the UAE takes very seriously the entire spectrum of terrorist and extremist movements which can threaten the UAE and its allies.
“The list includes terrorist groups and Islamist NGOs that are involved in fund-raising and health-care operations in areas of contention. Some of these Islamic NGOs are deeply involved in Europe and North America and are seen as a source of trouble specifically related to the Muslim Brotherhood. Their activities, which also include conferences, are pro-Muslim Brotherhood, and the point here is to cast light on their role in acting as gateways to recruitment into terrorist and extremist groups. The UAE’s designation of these known terrorist and extremist groups seeks to cast light on their illegal activities that not only threaten UAE interests but also the UAE homeland itself.”
The groups are not only Sunni extremists across the Al Qaida and Daesh universe, but also Shiite extremists, and ethnic groups like the Al Houthis. Islamic organisations throughout Europe are targeted on the list because of their long-standing links to Sunni extremists and the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR, in the United States, is also on the list which illustrates the group’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood as well.
Importantly, Dr Karasik said, these groups use social media and publish online publications out of Europe to boost their presence at a time when they should be put out of business and soon. Daesh, for instance, publishes its Dabiq magazine in Berlin. The fact that the comprehensive list spans across a number of continents illustrates that the UAE takes very seriously the entire spectrum of terrorist and extremist movements which can threaten the UAE and its allies.
Finally, the “List of 85” calls into question other countries in Mena that maintain links with these groups and calls into question why these countries use Europe and the United States for supporting Islamist extremists under their very noses.
Dr Karasik argues the UAE allies, who are part of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, need to recognise the UAE’s outlook on groups operating in their respective countries, where plotting against UAE interests is likely occurring but also the contributions going to these groups from their networks around the globe. The UAE’s security is strong and robust, and highlighting these groups illustrate painstaking work to identify those groups that are operating in other countries friendly to the UAE.
Legal experts said it is unlawful for a person in the UAE or subject to the jurisdiction of the UAE to knowingly provide support or resources to these designated terror groups.