The cell ''was plotting operations against the national security of both countries and that of a number of friendly states,'' according to a statement released by UAE authorities.
The statement, which refers to the cell as a ''deviant group'' - an expression often used by Saudi Arabia for organisations with links to Al Qaeda - specified neither how many members were in the cell nor the timeline, target or modalities of the plan itself. However, it did note that the investigation started from materials and instruments imported with intent to conduct terrorist attacks. Those arrested are UAE and Saudi nationals are will go before the Federal Martial Court. While Saudi Arabia is by no means a newcomer to being targeted by terrorist attacks or to being a breeding ground for them, the UAE has long been seen as an island of stability, due to the lifestyle and the high GDP per capita of its citizens, and rarely sees any violent acts. In addition to having to its name several ''terrorists'' among those who carried out the Twin Towers attack in New York in September 2001, as well as several Al Qaeda recruits during the Iraq war, Saudi Arabia has been targeted by several terrorist attacks in a number of different forms, from homicides to car bombs. The one with the highest death toll (35) and international attention was an attack on three residential buildings with foreign tenants in Riyadh in May 2003. The UAE, despite the glossy liberal image it tends to promote of itself, does not tolerate any sort of dissent. In 2012 at least 64 people with links to Al Islah, the local chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, were arrested.
The latest arrest, in early December, was of Mohammad Salem Al Zumer, who - at age 18 - is the youngest political activist ever arrested in the country.
The Islamists arrested in July have been charged with ''threatening state security'' and ''links with the armed wings of the movement''. (ANSAmed).