DUBAI: An Emirati Islamist group on Saturday denied press reports that it has formed a military wing and that it was receiving funds from abroad to set up an Islamic state in the United Arab Emirates.
The banned Al-Islah, or Reform, association is “pacifist, civilian and moderate and has never, and will never, choose to take up arms,” as part of efforts to push for reforms in the Gulf federation, the group said in a statement received by AFP.
On Thursday, Al-Khaleej newspaper reported that Islamists detained in the United Arab Emirates had confessed to forming a secret organisation that included a military wing aimed at establishing an Islamist state.
Members of Al-Islah allegedly said they planned to topple the UAE regime, a federation of seven hereditary sheikhdoms, the newspaper said citing unnamed sources close to the investigation.
“Investigations have revealed that the structure of the organisation included committees and local branches in every emirate, as well as consultative and executive councils and a military wing,” said the report.
It said the group admitted a plot aimed at “seizing power and establishing a religious state or a Caliphate” — the political system improvised by early Muslims after the death of Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century.
The organisation had also been acting “in high-level coordination with the organisations of the Muslim Brotherhood in three other Gulf states,” the daily said.
“The Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE recently received 10 million dirhams ($2.72 million) from its counterparts in the Gulf, because it is currently going through a tough time,” it added.
Other UAE newspapers reported matching statements also attributed to sources close to the investigation. But in Saturday’s statement, Al-Islah dismissed all these claims saying they were “baseless” and stressed that it had no links whatsoever with the Brotherhood.
Al-Islah is “an independent, patriotic group that has received no funds from abroad ... (and) is loyal to the Emirati government,” said the statement. On July 15, the UAE announced it had dismantled a group it said was plotting against state security and challenging the constitution but did not identify their affiliation or give the number of arrests.
According to Al-Khaleej those who made the reported confession are among 60 detained Islamists, including Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed Al-Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.