Last updated: 13 November, 2011

Ministry: Cell planning attacks in Bahrain busted

The Bahraini judiciary on Sunday linked a busted “terrorist” cell to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a day after announcing the arrest of five Bahrainis planning attacks in the Arab kingdom.

The five men are accused of belonging to a “terrorist group” with ties to the intelligence services of a foreign state, a judiciary spokesman said, quoted by state news agency BNA.

He said the five were to be “sent to Iran to receive military training,” notably with the elite Revolutionary Guards.

On Saturday, the interior ministry said a cell had been broken up that was planning to attack the ministry, the Saudi embassy in Riyadh and the causeway which links the archipelago state to Saudi Arabia.

Citing alleged confessions from the suspects, the judiciary spokesman said the cell had been set up by two men he named as Abderrauf al-Shaieb and Ali Mashaima, living abroad, through contacts with the five accused.

“They coordinated with military structures abroad, including the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij (militia) in Iran to train the recruits of the group in handling arms and explosives,” he said, without giving further details of the two alleged masterminds.

The spokesman said the plan was launched by sending cell members in small groups to Iran.

“One of them went to Iran where he met with a certain Assad Qassir, linked to the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij,” he said. The suspect received arms training and “sums of money from Iranian elements to finance the organisation.”

Four members of the cell were detained in Qatar and turned over to Manama, according to the interior ministry, which said the fifth Bahraini was arrested inside the country. The four had been travelling by car from Saudi Arabia.

They have been remanded in custody for a 60-day period to allow for an investigation to be completed, the judiciary official said.

Authorities seized “documents and a computer containing information of a security nature (and) details on certain vital sites,” as well as dollars and Iranian rials,” an interior ministry spokesman said.

“They then confessed that they had left Bahrain illegally at the instigation of others,” planning to travel on to Iran via Qatar and Syria, to form an “organisation to commit armed terrorist acts in Bahrain,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) urged its member states to exercise “caution and vigilance” after the Bahraini announcement of the five arrests.

“The condition in the region and dangers facing member states require more caution and vigilance in order to thwart criminal attempts at destabilisation,” GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani said.

He welcomed the security cooperation between Bahrain and Qatar that he credited with having foiled the alleged attacks.

In an apparent reference to Iran, Zayani said the alleged plot reflected “desperate attempts … of continuous interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Bahrain and other GCC countries.”

The Sunni-ruled Arab monarchies of the Gulf have repeatedly accused mainly Shiite Iran of meddling and of inciting the Shiite-led protests which rocked Bahrain for a month from mid-February.

The Bahraini government crushed the pro-democracy protest with the help of GCC troops, drawing condemnation from Tehran.