Wave of arrests follow plot to blow up Dubai tower
Month and a half after plan to blow up tallest skyscraper in world exposed, 45 more suspects arrested in addition to eight arrested when plot unraveled. Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese among those detained. Iran suspected to be mastermind behind plot
The current wave of arrests adds to the eight other suspects detained immediately after the plot was revealed one and a half months ago. The detainees were apparently sent as agents of Iran.
Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Jareeda, reported a month and a half ago that UAE security officials arrested "an armed network affiliated with one of the countries in the region that operated on Ras al-Khaimah." Dubai was apparently hesitant to say so explicitly, but the implication was towards Iran as the responsible party for the terror network.
Ras al-Khaimah was is the northern-most emirate in the United Arab Emirates and borders the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, both of which run parallel to Iran.
The tallest in the world, Burj Dubai (Photo: AFP)
The Kuwaiti newspaper reported that of the eight detainees, two are UAE citizens and the rest are Syrians and Palestinians. They were transferred to Abu Dhabi for investigation under a strict media blackout. According to the report, UAE officials found a weapons cache in a house in which the detainees were staying. One of the detainees with UAE citizenship works in the pharmaceutical industry, and the other UAE citizen is "a member of a well-known family in Abu Dhabi."
Officials connected to the case reported to Ynet that some of the detainees said in the investigation that they plotted to crash a plane into the Burj Dubai. The plan apparently was to carry out the attack close to the inauguration of the building upon its completion at the end of 2009. According to these same sources, it was possible that the plane would await them in an unofficial airfield in Iran.
Ynet has learned that the UAE has embarked upon an additional wave of arrests as the case has developed. Recently, 45 more suspects were arrested. Most of the detainees in this round of arrests are Lebanese and Palestinian with various citizenships. A majority of them were expelled from the country. The UAE has denied these allegations.
Increasing Iranian influence in Ras al-Khaimah
The Kuwaiti news report claimed that UAE defense officials have followed radical religious and political activists in recent years out of a concern that they would seek to exploit the country's relative openness to deepen their hold on the local population and carry out terrorist attacks on UAE territory. This concern was made particularly poignant following the significant entry easements made recently for foreign nationals, including people holding Iranian citizenship.
This is a particularly sensitive report that UAE officials, who are very concerned about Iran, would prefer not be published. According to sources linked to the case, the Iranians have real foothold in the UAE, particularly in Ras al-Khaimah. Iran has cultivated close business relations with Crown Prince Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi and his close associate, Lebanese Shiite businessman, Massad Khater.
According to these sources, this is not merely an innocent business relationship. Khater is a partner in a ceramics factory called Ras al-Khaimah Ceramics. This factory, the sources claim, directly aids Iran's weapons and missiles industry. The factory even has a branch in the Iranian city of Natanz, where parts for Iranian warheads are produced.
Khater is also one of the owners of the pharmaceutical company at which one of the detainees arrested for the Burj Dubai plot works.