Islamists detained in the United Arab Emirates have confessed to forming a secret organisation that includes a military wing aimed at establishing an Islamist state, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
Members of the banned Al-Islah, or Reform, association, said they planned to topple the UAE regime, a federation of seven hereditary sheikhdoms, Alkhaleej daily said, citing unnamed sources close to the investigation.
“Investigations have revealed that the structure of the organisation included committees and local branches in every emirate, as well as consultative and executive councils and a military wing,” said Alkhaleej.
The group admitted a plot aimed at “seizing power and establishing a religious state or a Caliphate” — the political system improvised by early Muslims after the death of Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century.
The organisation had also been acting “in high-level coordination with the organisations of the Muslim Brotherhood in three other Gulf states,” said the report.
“The Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE recently received 10 million dirhams ($2.72 million) from its counterparts in the Gulf, because it is currently going through a tough time,” it added.
Other UAE newspapers reported matching statements also attributed to sources close to the investigation.
AFP was not immediately able to contact lawyers of the detained to confirm the reports.
Al-Islah has traditionally been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Those who made the reported confession are among 60 detained Islamists, including Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed Al-Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.
On July 15, the UAE announced it had dismantled a group it said was plotting against state security and challenging the constitution but did not identify their affiliation or give the number of arrests.
Amnesty International has urged authorities to release the activists or provide them with fair trials.
The UAE has not seen the kind of pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab countries, including Gulf neighbours Bahrain and Oman, since last year.
But the Abu Dhabi government has stepped up a crackdown on voices of dissent and calls for democratic reforms.