UAE Terror Ties Beyond Ports


However, in a rare reversal of roles, President Bush – who has often been accused of overplaying the threat of terrorism for political gain – rubberstamped the port deal.  In all likelihood, the fact that President Bush does not have to run for reelection might have played role.  On the other hand, members of Congress are up for reelection every two or six years and the port deal presented them, especially presidential hopefuls, with an opportunity to demonstrate their tough stance on terror in exchange for voter-approval.  However, if members of Congress such as Senators Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton truly want to demonstrate their resolve in creating a terror-free world, then they, as well as other members of Congress, will fully address the United Arab Emirates’ questionable ties to terrorism instead of considering the resolution of the port deal a tremendous victory.

Often times, pundits on both sides will criticize the Bush Administration for neglecting to fully investigate the possibility that Saudi Arabia played a role in September 11.  However, the United Arab Emirates, ranking second in the origin of September 11 hijackers, deserve equal investigation.  In fact, prior to crashing a plane headed for the Capital or White House, September 11 hijacker Ahmed Abdullah Al Nami and other hijackers spent a considerable amount of time in Dubai, which was their main gateway to the United States.  Given that the 9/11 Commission reported on an apparent meeting between top ranking al Qeada officials and representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Congress should probe deeper into the hijackers’ stay in Dubai.

 Far from being a committed partner in bringing stability to Iraq, the United Arab Emirates is hindering progress.  The United Arab Emirates has served as a base that provides political, financial, and operational support for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, and is harboring dozens of Saddam Hussein’s high ranking officials including former Information Minister Mohammed Sayed al-Sahaf.  It has also closed down the independent Iraqi Station Al-Fayhaa, known anti-terror position and support of the United States mission Iraq, while clearing the anti-Western terrorist organization Hamas to set up a satellite station in Dubai Media City.  Moreover, Dubai’s state television station runs a weekly program by Ahmed Al-Kubaisi, an Iraqi Sunni cleric who has publicly declared his support of terrorism against the United States and Israel. UAE also holds large investments estimated at tens of millions of dollars by both Hamas and Hezbollah. 
 The United Arab Emirates is also not a committed partner in the war on terror.  It is a center of Al Qaeda’s information network as it is home of the most prolific extremist website,  Alsaha has served as a platform for Al-Qaeda militants to post thousands of graphic terror videos and statements and was the first to publish the brutal execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Recently, it exclusively displayed a video from Abu Yahya Al Leebi, the commander of Al Qeada in Afghanistan. Some might argue that all this proves is that the UAE is an adherent to the ideal of free speech.  Fair enough, but try explaining why the absolute monarchy’s Interior Ministry advertises directly on the front page.  Moreover, anyone who attempts to criticize the Emeriti government is banned from posting on the message board.  Death threats to potential reformers have been posted numerous times. 

 The recent controversy revealed that the United States needs to carefully examine its supposed allies in the war on terrorism.  Building upon the momentum of the port deal fallout, Congress should apply pressure on the United Arab Emirates to first break all ties to terrorism, and second, make reforms in areas of politics and human rights.  At the same time, the Bush Administration finds itself in a unique position to influence the Arab world with diplomacy as opposed to force.  If our leaders today are truly concerned with national security over quick political gain, then they will recognize this as an opportunity to better secure the United States and bring freedom to the Arab world.  At the same time, it is the responsibility of the American public to apply pressure on its elected officials to pursue this issue to the fullest extent.

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