Amid regional vigilance, Kuwait breaks up ISIS cell
LONDON - Kuwait’s Interior Ministry arrested four Kuwaiti nationals for alleged membership in Islamic State (ISIS) in what it said was a pre-emptive measure and said a fifth Kuwaiti had been killed fighting for the extreme Islamist group in “a terrorist operation” in Iraq.
“The detainees confessed they had received courses about doctrine of the terrorist organisation, its deviating thoughts, in addition to advanced training on using arms before taking in combat action in Syria and Iraq,” the ministry said in a statement.
Among the suspects identified by authorities was Fahad Hamad, 25, who allegedly had a number of jihadist books and a black ISIS flag at home. Also arrested was Mohammad Falah, 25, who, according to authorities, “facilitated the others’ travel to Iraq to take part in terrorist operations”.
The other suspects — Mohammad Hamad, 29; and Faleh Nasser, 34 — were said to have joined the ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. The Kuwaiti ISIS member who was killed in Iraq was identified as 29-year-old Mubarak Malfi.
None of the individuals appeared to be connected to the June 26th attack on a Shia mosque in Kuwait in which 26 worshippers were killed and more than 200 wounded. Kuwaiti officials identified the suicide bomber as Saudi national Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen Al-Gabbaa.
The sectarian-motivated June bombing led to increased security measures in the Gulf region. In Kuwait a crackdown by the authorities resulted in the arrest of 26 people suspected of involvement in the attack on the Imam Al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait City. In the first week of July, Saudi and Kuwaiti authorities arrested three Saudi brothers in connection with the attack.
The brotherswho were identified as Majed, Mohammed and Faisal al-Zahrani, allegedly drove to Kuwait from Saudi Arabia a day before the assault, transporting explosive materials in an ice cooler.
The explosives were of the same variety used in the two suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province, which was claimed by the Saudi branch of ISIS.
Kuwait has one of the largest Shia communities in the Gulf. Such communities have been among the prime targets of ISIS. A week before the June 26th attacks, the terrorist group’s chief propagandist, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, released an audio message calling on followers of the group to target “kuffars (infidels), Crusaders, Shias and apostates”.
In October 2014, US officials said Qatar and Kuwait were not doing enough to stop the funding of ISIS. David Cohen, US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, lauded the cooperation from some Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but said that Qatar and Kuwait were still “permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing”.
Two months earlier, the US Treasury Department designated three Kuwaiti nationals as terrorism financiers, with two of the individuals accused of funding al-Nusra Front in Syria, while the third individual was accused of supporting ISIS.
On August 6th, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque in city Saudi Arabian city of Abha, killing at least 15 people. The terrorist attack, which targeted a mosque used by members of the kingdom’s security forces, was the third suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia since May.
The kingdom has in recent months cracked down on ISIS online supporters, according to a report in the pan-Arab daily Al- Hayat.
Saudi security authorities have arrested a number of Twitter users belonging to ISIS, who were, according to an Interior Ministry statement, “leading a deceptive and hostile campaign against all those who differ with their views or expose the falsehood of the principles they embrace”.
These arrests were announced on the second day of Eid al-Fitr and included the detention of 431 individuals. Among those arrested was the man suspected of links with ISIS who allegedly sent death threats to Saudi comedian Nasser al-Qasabi, after he satirised the terrorist group on a television programme.