Gulf Islamists pay tribute to UAE fighter killed in Syria

Islamist groups in Arab countries of the Gulf paid tribute on Friday to an Emirati fighter and retired army officer who was killed in Syria battling troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Ommah parties in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said Mohammed al-Abdully died earlier this month in Raqa province of northern Syria, according to a statement received by AFP.

It said Abdully, a retired colonel in the UAE armed forces and former political prisoner, was the head of Ommah party in the Gulf state which bans political parties.

He was imprisoned by UAE state security in Abu Dhabi for two years in 2005 without trial, it said, adding that he helped to form the party and kept his post as its leader a secret.

In August, a YouTube video posted online showed a man reading a first communique of the Emirati Ommah Party, saying it was a "peaceful" group aiming for reform in the federation of sheikhdoms.

The Ommah groups, unauthorised in all three Gulf states, demand elected governments.

Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding Islamist fighters in Syria, where groups like Al-Nusra Front play a leading role in the battle against government troops.

Islamists from several Middle East and North African states have reportedly infiltrated Syria and joined rebel forces after peaceful protests that erupted in March 2011 turned into an armed conflict leaving more than 70,000 dead.