June 29, 2015 / 9:30 AM / 5 years ago

UAE sentences Emirati woman to death for killing U.S. teacher

DUBAI (Reuters) - A United Arab Emirates court on Monday sentenced a UAE woman to death for the Islamist-inspired killing of an American kindergarten teacher in December, the state news agency WAM said.

The teacher, identified as Romanian-born Ibolya Ryan, a mother of 11-year-old twins, was stabbed to death in a toilet at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall.

The Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi convicted the woman, Ala’a Badr Abdullah al-Hashemi, 30, of the killing and imposed the death penalty, WAM said.

The court said the crime amounted to “a direct threat to the security and stability of society” and that the case was dealt with an anti-terrorism law passed last year by the UAE, a U.S.-allied Gulf state strongly opposed to militant Islam.

The court’s ruling was final and not subject to appeal. However, executions are extremely rare in the UAE and it was not immediately clear when Hashemi might be put to death.

Hours after killing Ryan, Hashemi placed a makeshift bomb outside the front door of an apartment of an Egyptian-American doctor living in the UAE, but the device was safely dismantled, according to evidence submitted at the trial.

Pan-Arab al-Arabiya television said the court proceeded with the trial after medical examination confirmed the defendant had been aware of her actions and was not suffering from any mental illness.

Police said she had become radicalized over the Internet and had not been targeting an American in particular, but was looking for a foreigner to kill at random.

Attacks on Westerners are rare in the UAE, a wealthy oil exporter and tourism hub, but concern has been rising after a spate of Islamist militant attacks in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Supporters of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have urged Muslims to target Western expatriates in retaliation for U.S.-led air strikes on its fighters. The UAE has participated in the air campaign and is a strong opponent of a variety of Islamist groups.

Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Mark Heinrich

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