Documents: Dubai Threatened by Extremists
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 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
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
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
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
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.