Counterterrorism

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) strongly condemns terrorism and extremism in all forms. As a dependable ally of the United States (US) and other international partners, the UAE works to confront and eradicate terrorism and extremism across the Middle East and worldwide. 

The UAE cooperates closely with the US in the war on terror, providing military, logistical and intelligence support. The UAE has deployed alongside the US in coalition counter-terrorism, stabilization and peacekeeping missions six times, more than any other Arab military.

The UAE believes that violent extremists will not be defeated by military force alone. More holistic approaches are needed, including: cutting off funding; disrupting the recruitment of foreign fighters; securing borders; halting the spread of hate and promotion of violence via the web and social media; and preventing the use of religious centers to radicalize and recruit. 

The UAE is leading efforts to promote inclusion and compassion through Islam, countering the root cause of extremism and disrupting the messages that lead to radicalization. To this end, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments works closely with religious leaders in the UAE to monitor for and prevent extremist preaching in UAE religious centers. 

International leaders have commended the UAE and its leadership for their continued commitment to enhancing counterterrorism capacity and ongoing international counterterrorism cooperation.

General Anthony Zinni (ret.), Former Commander, US Central Command

The UAE has gone all in. It’s the strongest relationship that the United States has in the Arab world today. 

General Joseph Votel (ret.), Former Commander, US Central Command

The US and the UAE share the common national interest of eradicating terrorism… in this case, terrorism at the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS. We have adapted our approach so that US advisors, and in some cases our enabling capabilities, work with Emirati forces as they employ a very successful by, with and through strategy.

General James Mattis (ret.), Former US Secretary of Defense

From the grand strategic to the more tactical immediate issues, the US and UAE share common ground. Our strategic relationship is very broad, very deep and very strong… our military-to-military ties are extraordinary.

Military Commitment to Combating Terrorism and Extremism

  • The UAE has been a dependable ally of the US and other coalition partners in the fight against ISIS/Daesh. 
  • The UAE’s contributions to the fight against terrorism include combating extremist movements such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Taliban, the Houthis and Al Shebaab. 
counter terrorism in the UAE

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Promoting Inclusion and Compassion

  • The UAE is leading efforts to promote inclusion and compassion through Islam, countering the root causes of extremism and disrupting the messages that lead to radicalization.
  • Prominent UAE officials and religious leaders continue to publicly criticize violent extremist ideology and highlight the dangers of violent extremism. 
  • To prevent violent extremist preaching in UAE religious centers, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments works closely with religious leaders in the UAE and monitors possible violations. 
  • The UAE is home to Hedayah, the Global Center for Excellence in Countering Violent Extremism, a “think and do” tank that provides communities and governments around the world with tools to promote tolerance and understanding, and increase their capabilities to counter extremism and recruitment efforts by terrorist organizations. Hedayah was created by the UAE, US and other member countries of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in 2012. 
  • The UAE-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies convenes both secular and religious leaders from around the world to promote peace in Islam and find solutions to challenges facing the global Muslim community.
  • The Abrahamic Family House, a new interfaith center under construction in Abu Dhabi, is focused on creating mutual understanding among people of all faiths and belief systems. The center, which will include a church, mosque and synagogue, was inspired by the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the UAE in February 2019.

Countering Extremist Propaganda and the Exploitation of Web and Social Media

  • The Sawab Center is a partnership between the UAE and US to counter extremist propaganda and terrorist messaging in the online space. The Center was announced by US President Barack Obama at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.
  • Launched in 2015, this joint digital communications hub utilizes social media platforms to amplify credible voices to speak out against ISIS, counter false extremists' claims, and highlight key accomplishments by the Global Coalition against ISIS.
  • Sawab places a specific emphasis on amplifying credible third-party voices, whether these are organizations active in the anti-extremism field, moderate religious scholars or well-known personalities.
  • In addition, Sawab seeks to amplify credible religious narratives to counteract extremist rhetoric and has cooperated with like-minded entities including Al-Azhar. Sawab highlighted the 2016 Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities prominently.
  • Sawab has consulted and shared its experience with many countries and international organizations interested in similar efforts to counter violent extremism and regularly coordinates with other members of the Coalition on messaging and social media campaigns.
  • Under the UAE government’s cybercrime law, the UAE criminalizes the use of the internet by terrorist groups to “promote their ideologies and finance their activities.” 

Stopping the Flow of Foreign Fighters

Close Coordination with Regional and International Partners

  • The UAE has been proactive in preventing UAE nationals from joining extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.
  • Through close coordination and cooperation, the UAE and the US work together to stop the influx of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq.
  • The UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council countries are actively working together to enhance regional stability, increase interoperability and improve border security. Efforts include creating the GCC-POL to cooperate in thwarting terrorism.  

 

First Preclearance Facility in the Middle East

  • The UAE hosts the first US Customs and Border preclearance facility in the Middle East at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The facility is yet another layer in the close security cooperation between the UAE and US as the two countries work together to ensure global security and stability.

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