Bahrain threatened by IS militants
Reports have been received at SecurityMiddleEast.com that IS have made several covert and overt threats against Shia mosques in Bahrain over the past 48 hours.
The Bahraini security services fear that IS might have turned its attention to Bahrain in IS’s attempts to escalate sectarian tensions within the GCC countries.
Aimen Dean, a counter terrorism expert from 5 Dimension consultants in Dubai stated, “Bahrain is far more vulnerable to sectarian incidents as Bahrain’s Shia population is more militant in their attitude towards the government and an IS attack would likely cause significant levels of street violence, if not outright sectarian clashes”.
“Indeed we assess that an attack by IS against Bahrain’s Shia population is a matter of “when” rather than “if”,” he added.
He went on to say “There are a number of Bahraini’s in influential positions within IS and the most senior position held by the Bahraini, Sheikh Turki al-Binali, AKA Abu Sufyan al-Sulami (pictured above), a 30 year old hardline extremist cleric, is the Mufti of IS and the architect of its Libyan project”.
IS’s current focus on Bahrain is likely not just because of its historical sectarian instability but also because events in Bahrain influence what happens in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.
On May 11, 5 Dimensions reported that Shia Bahraini militants were caught smuggling a sizable shipment of high-grade RDX explosives into Saudi Arabia. Their report stated that the Saudi security source had said that two Bahraini nationals were intending to deliver a shipment of explosives to a Saudi Shiite cell in order to use them against Saudi security forces and oil pipelines.
Their source linked this to preparations by extremists to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia in the event of the hardline Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr who was sentenced to death late 2014, being executed.
Al-Nimr was sentenced by the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court for “seeking ‘foreign meddling’, ‘disobeying’ its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces”.
In March 2015 the appeal court of Saudi Arabia upheld the death sentence and in May the Saudi government started preparations for his execution, but no firm date has been set.
When asked what the implications of the IS focus on Bahrain is, Dean said “In our analysis IS is fully aware of Shia militant tendencies in Bahrain and their links with militant Shia cells in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. We believe IS is intending to provoke these cells and cause unrest in Saudi Arabia”.
“It is our view that despite high levels of security surrounding Shia mosques and centres across the GCC region, IS will be relentless in its drive increase sectarianism through violence and terror” concluded Dean.