Kuwait busts ISIS militant network

A police officer frisking a man earlier this month at the Bahrain Sunni Grand Mosque, where joint Sunni and Shi'ite Friday prayers were held to show solidarity after ISIS bombings of Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
A police officer frisking a man earlier this month at the Bahrain Sunni Grand Mosque, where joint Sunni and Shi'ite Friday prayers were held to show solidarity after ISIS bombings of Shi'ite mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.PHOTO: REUTERS

Those held admit receiving military training, lessons in 'science of a terrorist organisation'

KUWAIT • Kuwait has uncovered a network of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants and detained some of its members, the Interior Ministry said yesterday, a month after the group carried out the country's deadliest militant attack.

The network included five Kuwaitis, a ministry statement carried by the official Kuna state news agency said. The statement said, without elaborating, that one of the five had been killed in "a terrorist operation" in Iraq.

The individuals admitted receiving lessons in the "science of a terrorist organisation" and military training. Four members have 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," according to the statement.

All the suspects were born between 1982 and 1990.

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

The Gulf state launched a security crackdown on Islamist militants after a June 26 attack claimed by the ISIS, when a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shi'ite Muslim mosque, killing 26 people.

The 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 co-existed in peace.

An Interior Ministry source said the individuals named in the statement yesterday were not connected to the June 26 attack. Authorities are prosecuting another group of suspects in that case.

Up to 30 per cent of Kuwait's 1.4 million citizens are Shi'ite Muslims, who have enjoyed relatively good relations with the country's majority Sunnis.

The Gulf Arab state, however, shares its borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and its north-east is just a few kilometres from Shi'ite power Iran in a region in the grip of sectarianism.

The ISIS, whose Sunni militant forces have seized large tracts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, views Shi'ites as heretics and wants to expel them from the Arabian Peninsula, including Kuwait.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2015, with the headline 'Kuwait busts ISIS militant network'. Print Edition | Subscribe