Rebel fighters from the Islamic Front walk amidst smoke during what they said was an offensive against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Maarat Al-Nouman, Idlib province. Picture: Rasem Ghareeb

Dubai - The United Arab Emirates has referred nine expatriate Arabs to a state security court on charges of joining al Qaeda, collecting donations and recruiting fighters for al-Nusra Front in Syria, state news agency WAM reported on Monday.

The agency said two members of the group were also charged with setting up and managing a website dedicated to promoting al Qaeda and helping recruit men to fight abroad.

The agency did not say when or how members of the group were arrested, or which countries they were from.

WAM said members of the cell had “collected funds and channelled them to a terrorist organisation, the al-Nusra Front” and “made individuals participate and join a terrorist organisation”.

Al-Nusra Front, one of the main groups fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is an affiliate of al Qaeda and has been designated by the United States and by Arab countries as a terrorist group.

WAM said the court had set the trial for May 26 in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.