ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates has toughened anti-terrorism laws, local media reported Thursday, as concerns mount worldwide about increasing violence being committed by radical Islamist groups.
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahaan “enacted federal law number seven of 2014 on terrorist crimes,” the official WAM news agency said, without providing further details.
Newspapers said the law allows for the death sentence, life imprisonment, and fines up to 100 million dirhams ($27 million) for those found guilty of terror-related crimes.
“The law stipulates that those found guilty of attacking or threatening the president, the vice president or any of the rulers of the Emirates and their family members, and those conspiring against the state and government will face capital punishment,” the Khaleej Times daily reported.
Individuals “involved in carrying out, planning or assisting to carry out terrorist activities in the country or planning such activities outside but planned here will face these penalties,” the daily added.
The updated counter-terrorism law, amending a 2004 law, also includes terror financing, holding hostages, human trafficking, and money laundering.
The tougher penalties come amid regional and international fears about the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The UAE, an oil-rich Gulf monarchy which has emerged unscathed from the wave of Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, is following the lead of neighboring regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia.
The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom in February announced jail terms of up to 20 years for belonging to “terrorist groups” and fighting abroad. It also laid out tough sanctions for anyone backing such groups.
Saudi Arabia has published a list of organizations that include Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups fighting in Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other movements.
In June, a UAE top court jailed six Arabs for seven years after convicting them of forming an “Al-Qaeda” cell and raising funds for the Nusra Front, the jihadist network’s Syrian affiliate.
Dozens of Emiratis and Egyptians have also been jailed in recent months in the UAE for forming cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt and accused of seeking to overthrow the Gulf monarchies.