Dubai: An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cell, which was unearthed by UAE authorities, was active in recruiting members in the country and collecting sensitive military information that posed serious threat to UAE security, sources said.

Sources in the UAE and Egypt confirmed earlier reports of the arrests of 11 Egyptians, some of whom have been in working in the UAE for more than 20 years as doctors and engineers.

Members of the group has been active “on UAE soil with a defined organisational structure [and] held secret meetings in different areas of the UAE through their so-called ‘administrative offices’ and were recruiting Egyptians residing in the UAE to join the [Muslim Brotherhood] group,” the UAE daily Al Khaleej quoted unnamed sources as saying.

“Egyptians are treated very well in the UAE, a country that respects human rights as enshrined in the constitution, laws and international conventions,” Tamer Mansour, Egypt’s ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

Mansour told Gulf News on Tuesday that the embassy was in constant contact with the UAE Foreign Ministry and was following up on a daily basis on the well-being of Egyptians living and working in the UAE.

On whether the embassy has provided legal assistance to the arrested Egyptians, Mansour said the embassy’s role in this regard starts once the investigation is completed and indictment is issued, and the suspects are referred to the public prosecution.

The report in Al Khaleej described the 11 Egyptians as “the leadership” of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood branch in the UAE. Their activities were being monitored and investigated for years, it added.

The members of the cell, the sources explained, had established commercial firms to support their activities in the UAE and were illegally channelling significant amounts to support the mother group in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an Egyptian organisation, established in 1928 in Cairo, which calls for the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate and doesn’t recognise the current nation-states in the Arab world. It was banned in Egypt following a failed bid to assassinate then President Jamal Abdul Nasser in 1956. It was made legal in 2011 following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

“The Muslim Brotherhood saw the Arab Spring as an historic opportunity to leverage their political gains in Egypt and Tunisia to destabilise the current Arab governments, especially in the Gulf, to expand their power base and dominate societies,” a Gulf-based analyst told Gulf News, requesting anonymity.

The report in Al Khaleej said that the investigations revealed that the leaders and members of the group “were involved in collecting confidential military information about the UAE military”.

“The investigation also revealed strong ties between this group and the leaders of the [Emirati] secret organisation”, in reference to dozens of UAE Islamists, affiliated with the banned Al Islah Society, who are currently in detention and under investigation on charges of jeopardising national security. Al Islah Society was known for its strong links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

“There was a regular coordination between the two groups and they held secret meetings. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE also conducted training sessions for the [UAE members, currently in detention] on holding elections and means to overthrow regimes in the Arab states,” the sources explained.

They added that the investigation is expected to uncover “serious plots against the national security of the UAE”, stressing that the list may include “hundreds” of names involved in the Muslim Brotherhood network. “Some of those names have already been put on the travel ban list [and they] will be summoned for questioning.”

In addition to the Egyptian cell and the Emirati detainees, UAE authorities announced last week the arrest of a group that was planning terrorist operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring states. The arrests were made in cooperation with Saudi security authorities, a UAE security spokesperson said.