Second attack on Saudi Shia mosque
Islamic State (ISIS) said it carried out a suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia last week that killed four people, the second such a attack in the kingdom in a week.
The bomber attempted to enter the mosque in the eastern city of Dammam, a witness told the Associated Press, but was foiled by young men who had set up checkpoints at the entrance. Video from inside the al-Anoud mosque showed the moment the bomb went off outside during the Friday sermon, which was about the previous Friday’s suicide bombing that also targeted a Shia mosque in Eastern province and killed 21 people.
Security had been tightened at mosques after the May 22nd attack and women were told to stay at home because there were not enough female guards to check them, another witness said.
The young men who stopped the suicide bomber were killed in the attack. Identified as Abdul-Jalil al- Arbash and Mohammed Hassan Ali bin Isa, the pair have been hailed as heroes with thousands of tributes pouring in on Twitter and YouTube.
In a statement released after the second bombing, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its “Najd Province” fighters carried it out. The statement posted on a Facebook page used by the extremist group said a “soldier of the caliphate”, identified as Abu Jandal al-Jazrawi, killed himself up among “an evil gathering of those filth in front of one of their shrines in Dammam”. The name al-Jazrawi suggests the bomber was a Saudi national.
The statement called on Sunnis to “purify the land of the two shrines from the atheist rafida”, a derogatory term for Shias. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has repeatedly called for attacks on the Saudi kingdom and Shias in particular.
The kingdom’s Shia minority, who mostly live in Eastern province, have long complained of marginalisation by the country’s institutions, a claim disputed by the government and the predominately Sunni religious institutions.
In an effort to quash sectarian sentiment, the Saudi government and the country’s religious establishment quickly condemned the attacks and again called for national unity. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) head Abdul Latif Al Zayani described the bombing as a “cowardly criminal act that contradicts all principles of Islam and humanity”.
He reiterated the GCC’s commitment to “uprooting terrorism regardless of its reasons or perpetrators”.
After the May 22nd attack on the Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul- Aziz Al Saud vowed to bring anyone involved in the “heinous crime” to justice.
“Anyone taking part, planning, supporting, cooperating or sympathising with this heinous crime will be held accountable and will be subject to legal accountability. He will receive the deserved punishment,” the king said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Mosques in Eastern province are setting up closed-circuit cameras and women’s sections of mosques have been closed as a security measure after indications the second bomber dressed in woman’s clothing. Parking areas for mosques have been moved a significant distance from mosques and mobile phone jamming devices have been installed.
After the first suicide bombing, Interior Ministry official Bassam Attiyah said ISIS had divided the kingdom into five self-styled provinces. He said on state TV that the group’s short-term plans are to target the security forces and attack Shias to foment sectarian strife. They then plan to target foreigners, including those working in the Saudi oil industry, he said.
“What we are seeing now are the short-term plans,” he said.