The Bahraini government said today that the country’s security forces have arrested seven members of a cell suspected of carrying out acts of terrorism in the island country, the Bahraini and Iranian media reported. A report in Bahrain News Agency stated: “The cell is led by Hussain Ali Ahmed Dawood, 31, a leader of Saraya Al Ashtar, the terror wing of Al Wafa Islamic Movement. Dawood's nationality has been revoked. He is a fugitive in Iran and has been sentenced to life imprisonment in three cases and 15 years in jail in another case by the Bahraini courts. He is involved in setting up and controlling various terror cells and planning terrorist crimes which have resulted in the death of a number of policemen. He has strong ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and terrorist Murtadha Al Sindi.” The report added that Bahraini authorities have also confiscated explosives in several residential areas that were planned for making bombs.
Comment: The government of Bahrain has repeatedly accused the Islamic Republic of inciting violence against the Bahraini government and supporting groups that have attacked Bahraini security forces in recent years. In March, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior said that it had dismantled an Iranian-backed group that planned terrorist attacks in the island kingdom, including assassination of high-profile government officials. According to state-run Bahrain News Agency, 11 of the 14 individuals arrested are suspected of having received training in Iraq by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) and Lebanese Hezbollah. The report added that the arrests were made following intelligence operations that tracked the suspects’ multiple trips to Iran. The Ministry of Interior further alleged that the group operated under the leadership of Murtadha Majeed Al Sindi and Qassim Abdullah Ali, two individual who reportedly live in Iran and are designated as terrorist by the Bahraini government.
Earlier in March, government authorities had also said they had arrested 25 members of another allegedly Iranian-supported “terror cell” involved in attacks on the Bahraini security forces, including a deadly jail break in January. A statement released by the Bahraini government added that those arrested belonged to a 54-member group that went to Iran and Iraq to “receive training in the use of explosives and firearms at Revolutionary Guard camps." In February, Bahrain had announced the arrest of several individuals who had reportedly received military training in Iran and Iraq. “As part of the search and investigation that led to the foiling of the fleeing fugitives via the sea to Iran on February 9, a number of terror cells that were about to carry out terrorist plots have been dismantled through a comprehensive security plan,” Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.
The latest reports of an Iranian connection with terrorist plots in Bahrain are also worrisome to the U.S. military as its Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain – a strategic location that helps the U.S. Navy to ensure the security of maritime activity in the region, support the fight on terrorism, and monitor Iran’s subversive activities across the Middle East.
While the Iranian government has not reacted to the latest Bahraini allegations, they have previously rejected them as “lies” and urged Manama to refrain from blaming Iran and instead address Bahrainis’ human rights concerns.