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Documents: Dubai Threatened by Extremists

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060316/ap_on_re_mi_ea/arabs_al_qaida_threat;_ylt=AjzWs3DoEjICbXBEIGDvT6u9IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NTMzazIyBHNlYwMxNjk2 Documents: Dubai
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2006
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      Documents: Dubai Threatened by Extremists

      By SALLY BUZBEE, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 16,
      4:11 PM ET

      CAIRO, Egypt - An Islamic extremist group warned Dubai
      and other sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates that
      it would attack the crucial tourism industry if
      authorities persisted in arresting militants wanted by
      the West.

      The threat, contained in a letter dated 2002 and newly
      declassified by the U.S. military, shows the
      intimidation Arab countries face if they cooperate
      with the West. The letter came the same year the
      Emirates turned over to the United States a suspected
      mastermind of the deadly bombing of the USS Cole.

      The UAE has kept making arrests, including the
      detention and handover to Pakistan in 2004 of a
      Pakistani suspect who allegedly trained thousands of
      al-Qaida fighters.

      However, the issue of whether the country does enough
      to fight terrorism was at the center of a dispute in
      the United States over a Dubai company's plans — since
      abandoned — to run U.S. ports.

      The group that issued the 2002 threat, calling itself
      "Qaida al-Jihad," or the Qaida (Base) of Holy War,
      also said in its letter that it had infiltrated the
      UAE's "security, censorship and monetary agencies,
      along with other agencies that should not be

      "You are an easier target than (the Americans); your
      homeland is exposed to us," the letter said. "There
      are many vital interests that will hurt you if we
      decided to harm them, especially since you rely on
      shameless tourism in your economic income."

      The group's exact affiliation was impossible to
      determine, and the U.S. military did not say when or
      where the letter was found.

      Officials in the UAE have long feared they would be a
      target of al-Qaida, especially as cities like Dubai
      have boomed and drawn large numbers of European and
      Asian tourists.

      The Emirates also allows the United States to base
      U.S. Air Force spy planes and refueling flights on its
      territory and allows U.S. warships to visit — things
      that have brought al-Qaida's wrath on other countries,
      notably Saudi Arabia.

      Others believe al-Qaida would be loathe to strike at
      Dubai because the terror group is thought to use the
      Emirates' banks to funnel money. Dubai is the
      Mideast's chief banking center and the site of its
      busiest airport.

      The letter addressed that, saying "our policies are
      not to operate in your homeland and/or tamper with
      your security because we are occupied with others,
      which we consider are enemies of this nation. If you
      compel us to do so, we are prepared to postpone our
      program for a short period and allocate time for you."

      UAE officials say their security services are well-run
      and they fight aggressively to keep al-Qaida at bay
      through strict financial control laws and a joint U.S.
      task force that investigates terror funding.

      Nevertheless, Dubai and its part in the anti-terror
      fight were at the center of a weekslong furor in the
      United States over a Dubai-owned company's acquisition
      of U.S. port operations. The company, DP World,
      eventually bowed out of the deal, announcing it
      intends to sell all its U.S. businesses.

      Some in Congress said the issue centered on any
      foreign ownership of sensitive American sites such as
      ports. But others cited what they called Dubai's
      terror ties, especially a 2004 report that found about
      half of the $250,000 spent on the Sept. 11 attacks was
      wired to al-Qaida operatives from Dubai banks.

      The al-Qaida warning letter was among several
      documents made public late Wednesday on a Pentagon Web
      site, at the direction of top U.S. intelligence
      officials, after a public push by U.S. congressmen.

      A few of the documents were gathered by the U.S.
      military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and date
      from Saddam Hussein's regime. But most have nothing to
      do with Iraq, and are al-Qaida-linked documents the
      U.S. military says were "captured during recent

      U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra said many had been gathered in

      The release, expected to continue for months, is
      designed to let U.S. lawmakers and the public
      investigate what documents from Saddam's regime
      claimed about such issues as weapons of mass
      destruction before the invasion of Iraq.

      The Web site cautioned the U.S. government "has made
      no determination regarding the authenticity of the
      documents, validity or factual accuracy of the
      information contained therein, or the quality of any
      translations, when available."

      Many of the documents were in Arabic, including one
      indicating Saddam's regime was investigating what it
      called rumors that 3,000 Iraqis and Saudis had
      traveled unofficially to Afghanistan after the Sept.
      11 attacks to fight U.S. troops.

      The Pentagon Web site said the document confirmed the
      presence of an al-Qaida terror group in Iraq. It
      described the document this way: "2002 Iraqi
      Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of
      al-Qaida Members in Iraq."

      However, a translation by The Associated Press found
      the document, a letter from an Iraqi intelligence
      official, dated Aug. 17, 2002, merely asked agents to
      be on the lookout for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and another
      suspect whose picture was attached. The letter cited
      reports that the two could be in Iraq and directed
      Iraqi security officials to be on alert as a matter of
      "top priority."

      Attached were three responses in which Iraqi agents
      said there was no evidence that al-Zarqawi or the
      other man were in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, is
      now the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.


      On the Net:

      The declassified documents can be accessed at,


      Associated Press reporters Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut,
      Lebanon, and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad, Iraq,
      contributed to this report.
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