Security up across Gulf to thwart Daesh plots

Kuwaiti security forces gather outside the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by Daesh.

Kuwaiti security forces gather outside the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by Daesh.

Security has been tightened across Bahrain after flyers featuring the Daesh flag were found near a Shiite mosque this week.

The unsettling discovery at Ain Al-Dar Al-Shamali Mosque was an additional test of mettle for the Gulf region following three bombings of Shiite mosques by the militant group in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait since May 22.

With the extremist group choosing to strike at Friday prayers, nerves are stretched tight across the region on the eve of another Friday.

Reflecting the sensitivity, Bahraini Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa warned of legal action “against anybody implicated in the incitement of hatred or sedition.”

In Kuwait and in Bahrain, Sunnis and Shiites will pray together in main mosques, as a sign of national unity and in a challenge to the militant group.

Feelings among Shiites across the Gulf region are raw after the recent deadly blasts. “Is there worry? Yes there is,” said Waleed Sulais, a Shiite researcher from the Gulf. “But that did not weaken people’s spirits, and you see more people at the mosques,” he said.

“They (Daesh) have managed to spread fear. Mothers are now afraid of sending their boys to pray at mosques,” Amal, a 34-year-old teacher in Oman, said after police inspected a suspicious bag found near a Shiite mosque in Muscat.

“We are concerned after what happened in Kuwait. Not from locals, we know that we live in harmony, but from visitors,” she said, referring to the nationality of the June 26 Kuwait attacker.

Residents in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman said authorities had deployed extra police patrols outside Shiite mosques and installed security cameras in some.

Sulais said authorities had placed concrete blocks around some mosques in eastern Saudi Arabia while local volunteers frisk worshippers or scan them with metal detectors for explosives before they enter.

Kawther Al-Arbash, whose son died in Dammam on May 29 while preventing a suicide bomber from entering a mosque, said that more volunteers have been working to ensure safety of a larger number of people attending prayers, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

“I am worried that those terrorists might attack unexpected places, like mosques in rural villages,” she told Reuters. “My cousin texts me every day before he goes to the mosque, saying: ‘I’m going to the mosque now and I might not come back’.”

In Kuwait, MP Yousef Al-Zalzala told Reuters measures taken since June 26 sought not only to find those behind the attack there but also to “take precautions and make sure these precautions are good enough to deter terrorists.”

Residents reported a string of security steps in Kuwait and in Bahrain, where an unverified Twitter message by a prominent Daesh militant, Turki Al-Binali, suggested the island would be the destination of the next suicide bomber.

Bahrain had recruited “security volunteers” to coordinate entry of worshippers into mosques and to prevent crowds from gathering and obstructing movement in case of any incidents, state news agency BNA reported on Wednesday.

Shiites in the UAE said authorities had assured them that steps had been taken to ensure security.

“Obviously, when you see the reports of these threats on the news wires, social media and WhatsApp you would fear the worst, even if there’s a one percent chance,” said Muneer Al-Arahma, general manager of the Jaafari Islamic endowment in Dubai.

“But, thank God, the authorities have reassured us that security is under control and there’s nothing to worry about.”


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