Kuwait Uncovers New IS Cell

Kuwait Uncovers New IS CellKuwait Uncovers New IS Cell

Kuwait has broken up a new five-member cell of alleged members of the Islamic State militant group one month after a deadly bombing at a Shia mosque claimed the life of dozens, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Authorities arrested four men while the fifth was killed in a “terrorist” operation in Iraq, the ministry said in a statement. All the members are thought to be Kuwaiti nationals, Middle East Online reported.

Four cell members had allegedly taken part in fighting in Iraq, including the member who was killed, while another “facilitated and supported their travel to Iraq to take part in terrorist operations,” the ministry said.

The statement said “the terrorists have confessed to undergoing ... advanced training on the use of arms and took part in fighting in Iraq and Syria,” where IS controls vast areas. All the suspects were born between 1982 and 1990.

The case has been referred to the public prosecution for legal action, the ministry said, without stating when the arrests were made.

A trial is set to open on August 4, which will see five of the suspects tried in absentia.

 War Against IS

The Kuwaiti government declared itself at war with militants and said the bombing, Kuwait’s worst militant attack, was aimed at stoking sectarian strife in the majority Sunni state where the two sects have traditionally coexisted in peace.

IS claimed a suicide attack on the Imam Sadeq (PBUH) Mosque in Kuwait City in June that killed 26 people and wounded 227.

Authorities have charged 29 people, seven Kuwaitis, five Saudis, three Pakistanis, 13 stateless people known as bidoons, and another person at large, in connection with the worst attack in the oil-rich Persian Gulf state.

However, an interior ministry source said the individuals named in Thursday’s statement were not connected to the June 26 attack. Authorities are prosecuting another group of suspects in that case.

In late June, Kuwait said it had identified Fahd Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Qaba’a, a Saudi national, as the assailant behind the deadly mosque attack.

Up to 30% of Kuwait’s 1.4 million citizens are Shia Muslims, who have enjoyed relatively good relations with the country’s majority Sunnis.

IS militants, who have seized large tracts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, view Shias as heretics and want to expel them from the Arabian Peninsula, including Kuwait.

 Similar Attacks

An IS-affiliated suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia in May, killing four people, only a week after the IS claimed a similar attack of another Shia mosque that killed 21 worshippers.

Both attacks took place in the oil-rich east, which has a sizable Shia majority that has long complained of discrimination.

The IS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by its “Najd Province,” referring to a region in the central Arabian Peninsula.

The Saudi government announced last month it had broken up planned IS attacks in the kingdom and arrested 431 suspects in an anti-terrorism sweep, a day after a powerful blast in neighboring Iraq killed more than 100 people in one of the country’s deadliest single attacks since US troops pulled out in 2011.

The Saudi Interior Ministry also said they thwarted a suicide bomb attack on a large mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia in July that can hold 3,000 worshippers, along with multiple planned attacks on other mosques and diplomatic and security bodies.