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U.A.E. Arrests Members of Terror Cell Planning Gulf Attacks

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates, in coordination with Saudi Arabian officials, said it arrested members of a terror cell that was planning to carry out attacks in the two oil exporting nations and the broader region.

Officials arrested “a cell from the deviant group, comprising citizens from both countries, that was planning on carrying out actions that infringe on the national security of both countries and sisterly nations,” the official news agency said.

Oil rose on concern about security in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, and the U.A.E., which holds 6 percent of global proven crude reserves. Saudi Arabia intensified a crackdown on al-Qaeda in 2004 after militants struck an oil installation and stormed a housing complex in the city of al-Khobar, killing 22 foreign workers.

“This is something quite new,” Khalid al-Dakhil, a politics professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, said in a phone interview. “The collaboration between Saudi and U.A.E. militants is unusual. Also, the fact that this was going to happen in the U.A.E. -- it isn’t a country where terrorism attacks are usual. Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt are more known for terrorism, not the U.A.E.”

U.A.E. authorities said members of the group had obtained equipment and materials to carry out their attacks, the official WAM news agency said today.

Oil Rises

Saudi Arabia commonly refers to al-Qaeda affiliated militants as being part the so-called deviant group. The suspects will be tried in court, WAM said.

Crude oil for February delivery climbed $2.13, or 2.4 percent, to $90.74 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume for West Texas Intermediate futures contracts was down 42 percent from the 100-day average.

Saudi security forces detained more than 100 terror suspects in March 2010, and some were accused of plotting attacks on energy installations and military sites in the east of the country.

The kingdom’s security forces in August arrested members of a terrorist cell in Riyadh planning to target security forces, residents and public facilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported at the time.

Six Yemeni nationals, with connections to terrorist groups outside the country, were arrested after preparing and testing explosives near the kingdom’s capital, the official Saudi agency said Aug. 26.

‘External Elements’

U.A.E. authorities said in September they have arrested more than 50 Islamists who were conspiring against the state and allegedly had links to “external elements.”

Most of those detained belong to a domestic Islamic group known as al-Islah. Al-Qaeda has no known affiliations with local Islamist groups in the Persian Gulf that are politically active.

Anwar Gargash, the minister for foreign affairs, said on Aug. 26 that the so-called Arab Spring has emboldened Islamist groups in the region.

“The arrest of various Islamist activists in the U.A.E. is not an event to celebrate,” Gargash wrote in a column posted on the website of the Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper. “The dynamics of the Arab spring have created various challenges in different societies. The political success of Islamic parties in many Arab lands has emboldened their protégés.”

Some Islamists have attacked the U.A.E. because of its religious tolerance, Gargash said at the time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Inal Ersan in Dubai at; Glen Carey in Riyadh at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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