Three refugees claim that the UAE funded the war crimes of ISIS terrorists in Syria civil war. This landmark case is part of British legal history.
The men, who hail from Syria and are now asylum seekers in Britain, claim that Arab officials have funded human rights abuses in Syria’s war-torn country in 2015.
They claimed to have witnessed brutal beatings, torture, and property destruction by jihadists who they said were armed by the Gulf State.
One claimant stated that the smell of death and corpses spread throughout his beloved town and that there was no life left.
They are now pursuing legal action through the High Court in England against the UAE.
The claim would be the first of its kind as they seek to blow apart the use of the sovereign immunity defence in cases involving human rights abuses, such as torture.
If successful, it would open the floodgates for people to hold foreign state sponsors of militant and terror groups to account through UK courts.
These men, now asylum seekers in Britain, claim that Arab officials funded human right abuses in the war-torn region in 2015. Pictured: Mohamed al Saeid, one of the refugees
The ongoing conflict in Syria is a decade-old conflict that has claimed at least 387.118 lives. Pictured: A file photo of an air strike in Saqba in 2017
The ongoing conflict in Syria is a decade-old conflict that has resulted in at least 387,118 deaths.
A further 205,300 people are either missing or presumed dead, with 88,000 of these believed to have died of torture by the regime.
The government of Syria is believed responsible for approximately 156,329 deaths, while Islamic State is believed have killed 13,996 people during its brutal campaign.
The UAE joined the fight against ISIL in 2014 as part of the US-led coalition, but later retreated to join the Russian intervention in civil war in 2015.
The London-based refugees – Mohamad Damen Alsulaiman, Ahmad Sharaf and Mohamed al Saeid – got their lawyers to launch a pre-action protocol against the UAE, paving the way for court proceedings.
They claimed that the UAE made weapons, equipment, and aid packages and accused the country for funding jihadists during 2015’s chaotic civil war in Syria.
Mr Alsulaiman, a builder and construction worker from Nabe’ al-Sakhr, a 1,800-strong dwelling in the Quneitra Governorate, said the area became a hotbed for jihadist activity in 2014.
He stated, “All groups committed crimes and damages, bombings, torture and killing.” They are all armed militias.
“They were abusive to people, and wanted to make our society a total conservative regime.
They tortured and murdered many people. They refused to accept our liberal style of living. They wanted us convert to their radical ideology.
Mohamad Damen Alulaiman, Ahmad Sharaf, and Mohamed al Saeid were the refugees who asked their lawyers for a preaction protocol against UAE. Pictured: File photo of the aftermath of a bomb blast in Balyun, Idlib province, in 2019
He said, “I witnessed all kinds of human rights violations, such as bombings, fighting, killing, and arrests.”
“It was a horrifying experience that caused trauma for me. Several of my relatives were either killed, arrested or tortured by these groups.
He said terrorists were wandering around with guns called CAR 816 or Caracal Sultan, which are similar to M16s but used by the UAE.
Mr Alsulaiman claimed that some of them were given personal weapons called Caracal pistols. These guns also hail from the Arab states.
He claimed that one of his relatives bought food from the market wrapped in an Emirate Flag, which he claims is evidence of UAE involvement in the militants’ cause.
He also said that the relative had told him that they were three long-life meals being sold by jihadi fighters.
Mohamad Damen Alsulaiman, a builder from Nabe’ al-Sakhr in Quneitra Governorate said that the area was a hotbed of jihadist activity in 2014.
Mr Alsulaiman said terrorists were wandering around with guns called CAR 816 or Caracal Sultan (pictured, file photo), which are similar to M16s but used by the UAE
Mr Sharaf, a Daraa Governorate resident, had been at school while in Syria and said that ISIS and other jihadists had taken over the area in 2015.
He stated that he did not know the differences between these groups. There were many Islamic groups with different slogans and names. They used different flags and had different agendas.
ISIS executed, kidnapped and tortured people who were against them, from any group, who are not following their ideology, such as musicians, artists, and painters, and who refused to do what they asked.
They whip and torture people in the middle the famous squares. They used to kill people who simply left their homes.
“They used to terrorize other people by showing things in public.” They did this to me when they invaded my home and beat me and then arrested me.
Sharaf stated that he was taken into custody by ISIS during their control of the area for up to seven people for approximately two weeks.
He said, “They beat randomly, just as hard every day.” They were face-masked, and sometimes we were blindfolded.
They used religious language and texts to justify the behavior.
Ahmad Sharaf (pictured) claimed that ISIS held him while they controlled the region with up to seven other individuals for approximately two weeks
He said that the UAE was involved in the alleged involvement.
They always spoke of ‘the Abu Dhabi sheikh’ (another one, not Abu Qotada), which will return again.
“I understood from their words that there was a man responsible for supervising their work, and paying their salaries.
He claimed that his family saw fighters providing aid to people along with food packages and flyers saying “a gift from the emirate people”.
He claimed that he was able to escape prison by bargaining and telling a guard that he had money he could turn over.
He claimed it worked, and he fled the region by paying large sums to people involved in smuggling gangs.
Meanwhile Mohamed al Saeid, from Umm Batinah, a 1,500-strong dwelling in the Quneitra governorate, said when ISIS took over his town they came with had Red Crescent food parcels.
However, he said that he doesn’t have any other proof of UAE involvement in terrorist acts than media reports.
After bombings by Asaad in 2015, the three men had to flee Syria. Pictured: A car bombing occurred in Afrin’s northern city this month
After being bombed by the Asaad regime, in 2015, the three men were forced from Syria to flee their homes.
They fled via Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and finally found refuge in Britain.
Lawyers representing them stated that they have not received a response to their letter to the UAE. They also sent it to the Foreign Office.
They told their legal team Ai Law to prepare papers for a case in the High Court to strike down the sovereign immunity defence for alleged human rights abuse cases.
The solicitors will argue it is impossible to hold foreign states to account for allegedly violations due to the defence – in the first suit of its kind in the High Court.
This could open the door to the trial of sovereign governments for human rights violations.
The Foreign Office issued a disappointing response to the letter. It said: ‘Thanks for your letter of 15/09/2009 to the Foreign Secretary in which you enclosed as information a copy Ai Law’s letter to the United Arab Emirates Ambassador for its clients.
“Your letter was sent to the Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Department. They will respond.
“The FCDO has taken note of this correspondence between Ai Law, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.
The refugees asked Ai Law to prepare papers to present to the High Court (pictured), to defeat the sovereign immunity defense for alleged human right abuse cases.
Tom Ellis, Ai law, stated that three Syrian refugees approached him to sue key individuals from the UAE. They claim they were complicit in their tortures and other illegal treatment.
“These actions forced them all to flee their homes and families, travel thousands, and finally find shelter in the UK.
“The actions as described in compelling evidence would constitute a clear violation of Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely that “No one shall be subjected either to torture or to cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment.”
Mr Ellis stated that Ai Law was instructed to bring the landmark claim to Court. Although there are legal hurdles to overcome, success would send a clear message to governments or any state actor, that you will be held responsible if you are convicted of torture or other human right violations.
Jamal al Attar of the International Federation of Human Rights stated: ‘The testimony of the Syrian refugees shake me to my core.
“We all know that civil war in Syria is a social disaster. However, the international community cannot ignore UAE’s direct financial support of war criminals.
“The legal action in London would set a precedent in that it would incriminate those governments even though they were ”symbolically. And it will prohibit future involvements which could lead to the destabilization of the Middle East.
Tom Charles, Director of The Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism said: ‘Despite Biden’s warning in 2014 and some efforts to legislate against them, the UAE remains an ideal platform to channel illicit funds due to jurisdictional complexity. It includes two financial free areas and 29 free commercial zones and is near conflict zones.
Terrorist organisations, regardless of whether they are acting out of wilful neglect or not, must have their purse strings trimmed.
“We will never defeat terrorists if we don’t stand up against the weak financial regulations that feed violence, abuse, and extremism.”