ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida may be present in the Persian Gulf region but any militant cells in the area are probably inactive, a terrorism expert says.
Two Pakistani men standing trial in the United Arab Emirates are accused of sending computer messages to top al-Qaida figures in the northern tribal regions of Pakistan.
Riad Kahwaji, the founder of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis told London's pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat that "there is nothing surprising" about al-Qaida operating in the United Arab Emirates.
He said their militant message is "easily transferable" because al-Qaida sympathizers can be found almost anywhere, even in Western-allied countries.
"Al-Qaida is present in the gulf, and the security authorities are on alert and monitoring the situation ... to prevent any cell from establishing itself," he told the news agency.
Al-Qaida appeared on the Emirati radar in 2002 when authorities arrested Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was allegedly behind the USS Cole bombing in the Gulf of Aden in October 2000.
Though al-Qaida is certainly present in the gulf region, Kawaji stressed that any established cells are most likely "inactive."