Kuwait was put on high security alert starting Thursday evening after indications of an Islamic State (ISIS) plot over the end-of-year holidays.
A statement on Twitter attributed to Interior Minister Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali said that the ministry “has deployed foot patrols of fully equipped special forces units inside residential complexes and shopping malls,” in a “step aimed at imposing discipline and observing the law.”
The statement did not give the immediate reason for the security alert, but the measure coincided with the disclosure by local media of what was said to be a plot by ISIS to use Kuwaiti teenagers to carry out bloody attacks in the country.
The disclosure of the plan came during an exceptionally difficult period in Kuwait resulting from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the normal course of life in the country, especially commercial traffic and movement of goods and people in and out of the country.
However, the major difficulty the country is facing currently is the deepening financial crisis resulting from the significant decline in oil prices, given that the state treasury is almost 100% dependent on oil revenues. This crisis has reached the point of the government discussing the possibility of it being unable to pay the salaries of state employees in the event Parliament refuses to authorise it to resort to borrowing to meet the deficit.
The official investigations related to the case of the arrested juveniles in the new ISIS case revealed shocking details. Perhaps the most frightening of them is the fact that ISIS members had tasked these juveniles with targeting places of worship and commercial complexes on New Year’s Eve, with firearms seized in their possession.
In the event that the plan is confirmed, it will not be the first time that ISIS targets Kuwait. The terrorist organisation had, in the summer of 2015, conducted a suicide attack against a Shia mosque in the Al-Sawaber area in the capital, killing dozens of victims.
ISIS’s exceptional focus on the Kuwaiti arena calls on opinion leaders and politicians to consider the hypothesis that this terrorist organisation has perhaps sensed the existence of a basis of religious militancy in the country that would allow it to infiltrate it and make it an entry point to destabilise an otherwise stable and secure Gulf region.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas quoted, on its website,sources as saying that the ringleader of the arrested juvenile suspects was the son of a former member of the National Assembly (Parliament). Apparently, he was the first to be contacted and enrolled by ISIS members.
The sources added that the results of the investigations, including the defendants’ confessions, have been submitted to the Minister of Interior, Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali, and the Undersecretary of the Ministry, Lieutenant General Essam Al-Naham. The two top officials ordered the strictest security measures in the vicinity of places of worship, in commercial complexes, and markets, through the deployment of Special Forces men, as well as undercover officers, in addition to the regular field security teams.
The sources pointed out that “the security forces had clear and explicit orders to take all precautions and to deal promptly and decisively with any suspect, and to report everything that is going on moment by moment to the security leaders.”
On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti State Security Services arrested six Kuwaiti juveniles who were in contact with ISIS.
The investigation revealed that they had been recruited and radicalised by ISIS. Investigators also seized firearms which were found in the possession of some of them, and confiscated several computers containing correspondence and coordination messages with the terrorist organisation.
The sources said that one of the arrested juveniles admitted that he was contacted by a person through one of the famous online games. That person had deliberately joined the juvenile’s team in the game. A week later, he contacted him through social media and asked him to embrace the ISIS ideology. He later asked him to draw ISIS flags inside his room and promised to send him money to recruit the rest of his friends.
The sources indicated that the accused juvenile in turn spoke to one of his close friends, told him what happened, and eventually convinced him to join him in embracing the ISIS ideology, pointing out that that friend in turn recruited four of his friends.
The sources also revealed that the security services managed to arrest the rest of the gang and referred them all to the competent authority. Investigations are still ongoing.
The Arab Weekly