The stabbing of an American teacher in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this month sent shock waves throughout the emirates. It is very rare for foreign nationals, who make up around 90% of the UAE’s roughly 9 million population, to be targeted in criminal or terrorist attacks in the emirates. However there remains the possibility of further attacks against westerners.
The potential for this attack was reported in SecurityMIddleEast.com in a special threat warning posted on 02 Nov 14 https://securitymiddleeast.com/threat-alert-international-schools/ where staff from American and International Schools were warned in particular.
The Abu Dhabi attack was carried out in the bathroom of a high end mall by an Emirati woman of Yemeni origin. Several hours later, the culprit planted a bomb at the home of an Egyptian/American before she was arrested. A widely circulated YouTube video shows UAE security forces storming a spacious home arresting the alleged attacker, who UAE officials say was influenced by terrorist ideology online but was acting alone.
This is ‘kitchen terrorism’ at its essence, a term meaning the use of kitchen appliances for terrorist means which 5 Dimension Consultants first wrote about in May 2013 after the attack of Fusilier Lee Rigby in London. UAE officials have also stated that the alleged attacker acquired the know how to build a basic bomb through pro-terrorist websites. The alleged attacker and her husband are currently under arrest, and we expect more details of the case will be revealed as the interrogation process continues.
IS supporters have urged Muslims to attack Western expatriates in retaliation for US-led air strikes on its fighters. Numerous attacks on Western nationals in neighbouring Saudi Arabia has raised concerns of similar attacks in countries like the UAE, which is also participating in the US-led airstrikes.
UAE authorities may succeed in gaining valuable information from the woman and/or her husband, who is known to have jihadist sympathies and was also arrested in connection with the crime. If successful, this could lead to more arrests of jihadist sympathisers in the Emirates.
Fears remain that the attack could inspire others to carry out similar attacks. For the UAE, such incidents could have devastating economic implications as it may cause foreign nationals to decide to leave the country on security grounds. The government is acutely aware of this, and is on high alert to the threat of terrorism within its borders. The efficiency at which the alleged murderer was apprehended is testament to this.
Along with other Sunni Arab allies Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, the UAE remains at risk of further terror attacks on its soil and the 5 Dimension team expect more attacks of this nature in the coming months in countries supporting the US-led airstrikes.
This prediction was made before the Senate Report into CIA activities and torture and this is likely to result in an even higher threat to western and American in particular citizens. All who live and travel in the region should remain vigilant and take personal security seriously.
It is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high. Please follow these good personal security practices:
– Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public.
– Know where you are going and have a plan of what to do in the event you encounter demonstrations or violence.
– Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals, government buildings) in your area and how to get to them quickly.
– Tell co-workers or neighbours where you’re going and when you intend to return.
– Minimize your profile while in public.
– Be vigilant.
Information for this report has come from 5 Dimension Consultants who are available to advise where necessary.