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Kuwait ‘in state of war’ as 60 terror suspects nabbed

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KUWAIT: Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said yesterday that the security agencies have busted the terror cell responsible for the deadly attack against the Shiite mosque but they are still looking for other cells. “We are in a state of war. In this case, we have busted this terrorist cell but there are other cells that we are going to strike. My target is to get the mastermind who are controlling these people” the minister told the National Assembly during a special debate.

Sheikh Mohammad said that the ministry has revised the security plan that it has made a month ago and there will be added security measures especially around mosques and places of worship.

Recalling the events immediately after the suicide bombing that devastated Imam Al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City, the minister said that the Amir refused repeated pleas by him to leave the scene because it was not secure.

He said the Amir was at the scene even before explosive testing devices had arrived to check of there were other bombs. “I pleaded with him that it was unsafe but he insisted to go inside the mosque when fire and smoke were still coming out saying ‘these are my children’” the minister said.

Sheikh Mohammad said that security measures were raised over a month ago and as a result of those measures, the “suicide bomber was forced to walk 200 meters to reach the mosque”. He also said that the suspects told interrogators that they had planned to carry out the bombing at two other targets but could not because of security measures.

The Interior Ministry has made a large number of arrests and sent at least five of them to the Public Prosecution for further legal action. Minister of Justice and Awqaf an Islamic affairs minister Yacoub Al-Sane told the Assembly that the Supreme Judicial Council has decided to form a special court to try the suspects in the mosque attack. He said the aim is to accelerate the trial but without ignoring the procedural law governing trials.

During the debate, requested unanimously by the Assembly, MPs hailed the Amir’s visit to the site of the bombing and the efforts of the Interior Ministry in arresting the suspects in the bombing. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the unity of Kuwaitis has foiled the plot. “They wanted it to be a conflict between two sects and what we saw was one religion” he said. All MPs and ministers wore the Kuwaiti flag in a show of national unity. But a number of MPs called on the government and the Interior Ministry to step up their preparations for any possible attacks. “We are in a state of war with terrorism” MP Jamal Al-Omar said. “But has the problem ended - and what are the guarantees that the bombing will not happen again next Friday” asked Omar. “We need precautionary measures for the future, we need a crisis management agency ... and the government must set up a war council” he said.

MP Khalil Al-Saleh said he was at the mosque when the bombing took place and he saw everything. He said he felt the explosion, people bleeding, others calling for help while other worshippers dying. He warned that if no strict measures are taken, the wave will reach other places, including Sunni mosques. Islamist lawmaker Ahmad Al-Azemi said that the ideology of terrorism is not linked or related to Islam. He also warned the Education Minister against exploiting the situation to change school textbooks. MP Hamdan Al-Azemi claimed security measures around the mosques were not sufficient. Liberal MP Rakan Al-Nasef said we cannot say that this was the last terror attack in the country.

Meanwhile, Kuwait has detained 60 people and closed a local charity for alleged violations in raising funds for Syrians, local media said yesterday, as part of a crackdown on suspected militant links after the Gulf Arab state’s worst ever suicide bombing. A local newspaper quoted security sources as saying that 60 people, including Kuwaiti citizens and nationals of other Gulf states, were being held for investigation by security services.

Some had been found to have been in contact with Sunni Islamist militants with others suspected of belonging to “extremist” groups, Al-Qabas reported, without elaborating. It also said that five people suspected of involvement in Friday’s mosque bombing by Saudi national Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen Al-Qabaa had been referred to the Public Prosecutor. The five, it said, had confessed to receiving financial transfers from abroad to carry out attacks targeting houses of worship. Al-Qabas did not name them but Kuwait’s Interior Ministry has said it had detained the driver of the vehicle that took Qabaa to the Shiite mosque, the owner of the car and the owner of the house where the driver went to hide after the attack. Kuwaiti authorities were not immediately available for comment on the Al-Qabas report. Al-Rai daily, another Arabic-language newspaper, said the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs permanently closed down the Fahd Al-Ahmed charity on Sunday due to “repeated violations despite the warnings”.

Quoting a source at the ministry, Al-Rai said that the ministry had repeatedly asked the charity to comply with regulations stipulating that funds for Syrians be collected through official channels. Officials from the charity were not immediately available to comment on the report.

US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen has described Kuwait as “the epicenter of fund-raising for terrorist groups in Syria.” The Islamic State militant group issued an audio clip purporting to be a posthumous statement by the bomber, in which he criticizes Shiites, “especially in Kuwait”, for what he termed insults to Islam. The bombing has sharply heightened regional security concerns because Islamic State appears to be making good on its threat to step up attacks in the holy fasting month of Ramadan.


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