Most probably they were seen as a threat to the ruling Nahyans and got picked up. And now branded as terrorists.UAE arrests al-Qaeda cell 'plotters' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates said they have arrested a seven-member group linked to al-Qaeda which was planning actions against the country's security.
State news agency WAM said on Thursday the members were of various Arab nationalities and were recruiting, financing and providing logistical support to al-Qaeda. They had also sought to expand their activities to regional countries, WAM said.
"The cell was planning actions that would target the country's security and the safety of its citizens and residents, and was carrying out recruitment, and promoting the actions of al-Qaeda," WAM said.
"It was also supplying it (al-Qaeda) with money and providing logistical support and seeking to expand its activities to some regional countries," WAM said.
The US-allied UAE, a federation of seven emirates and a major oil exporter that has supported Western efforts to counter militancy in the region, has been spared any attack by al-Qaeda and other insurgency groups.