CAIRO -- An Islamic extremist group warned Dubai and other sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates that it would attack the crucial tourism industry if authorities persisted in arresting militants wanted by the West.
The threat, contained in a letter dated 2002 and newly declassified by the US military, shows the intimidation Arab countries face if they cooperate with the West. The letter came the same year the Emirates turned over to the United States a suspected mastermind of the deadly bombing of the USS Cole.
The UAE has kept making arrests, including the detention and handover to Pakistan in 2004 of a Pakistani suspect who allegedly trained thousands of Al Qaeda fighters.
However, the issue of whether the country does enough to fight terrorism was at the center of a dispute in the United States over a Dubai company's plans -- since abandoned -- to run US ports.
The group that issued the 2002 threat, calling itself ''Qaeda al-Jihad," or the Qaeda (Base) of Holy War, also said in its letter that it had infiltrated the UAE's ''security, censorship and monetary agencies, along with other agencies that should not be mentioned."
''You are an easier target than [the Americans]; your homeland is exposed to us," the letter said. ''There are many vital interests that will hurt you if we decided to harm them, especially since you rely on shameless tourism in your economic income."
The group's exact affiliation was impossible to determine, and the US military did not say when or where the letter was found.
The Al Qaeda warning letter was among several documents made public late Wednesday on a Pentagon website, at the direction of top US intelligence officials, after a public push by US congressmen.
A few of the documents were gathered by the US military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and date from Saddam Hussein's regime.
But most have nothing to do with Iraq, and are Al Qaeda-linked documents the military says were ''captured during recent operations."
Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, said many had been gathered in Afghanistan.