Bahrain jails 24 for forming ISIS cell

DUBAI (AFP) - A Bahraini court on Thursday (June 23) sentenced 24 people for belonging to an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cell, stripping 13 of them of their citizenship, the prosecution said.

One member was jailed for life after being convicted of forming a branch of the Sunni militant group and recruiting others, while the rest were each sentenced to 15 years' jail.

Only eight defendants are held by the authorities, while 16 others remain at large.

The cell ringleader was accused of recruiting two others into ISIS, and helping one of them travel to Syria to receive military training from the jihadists, public prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said.

The pair were also tasked with recruiting others who joined ISIS abroad.

Members were judged to have fought for ISIS, while the cell used social media to incite members of the military and security forces to "join their terrorist group", the prosector said.

The group also "plotted suicide attacks by members in Bahrain against places of worship, like the attacks by the terrorist group in neighbouring countries", Mr Hammadi said in an apparent reference to attacks on Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia last year.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain has a majority Shi'ite population which has long complained of marginalisation.

The Gulf kingdom is part of the United States-led coalition that is conducting air strikes against ISIS in Syria.