ABU DHABI Ñ Bahrain has arrested a terrorist cell that planned to
stage attacks against U.S. military personnel and facilities including the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Western diplomatic sources said Bahraini's domestic intelligence service
arrested a five-member cell that included at least two members of the
kingdom's military. The sources said the arrests took place on Friday.
Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for U.S. naval activity
in the Persian Gulf and is expected to play a major role in any war against
Iraq. U.S. officials said the Fifth Fleet was on heightened alert last week. They said the alert was lowered over the weekend after the Sunni Muslims
The investigation is focusing on any links the suspects had with either Al Qaida or Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported.
The diplomatic sources said the suspects are not members of the Shi'ite
Muslim majority in Bahrain. Over the last decade, most of the suspects
connected to anti-government unrest and attacks were identified as Shi'ites
with links to Iran.
The Sunni suspects were identified as Bahraini nationals. They names
released on Saturday were Mohieddin Mahmood Mohieddin Khan, a 41-year-old
Lebanese native; Bassam Abdulrazzaq Abdulla Bukhowa, 32, Bassam Yousif Abdul
Karim Ali, born in 1965; Isa Abdulla Abdul Rahman Al Balouchi, a 30-year-old
Saudi native; and Jamal Hilal Mohammed Al Balouchi, 38.
Over the last year, thousands of Bahraini nationals, including
parliamentarians, have called for the end to the U.S. military presence in
"Security forces arrested a cell which was planning terrorist attacks
after receiving information on their movement which targeted national
interests in the kingdom and the lives of innocent nationals," a Bahraini
security official told the Bahraini News Agency on Saturday.
The news agency said security forces captured ammunition and weapons,
which included pistols and AK-47 Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles. The
official said authorities are seeking to determine whether the suspects are
"linked to groups inside or outside Bahrain."
"Investigations have started with this terrorist group to find out if
they belong to certain political organizations or if they were working
alone," the official said.
But the U.S. embassy in Manama maintained an advisory that urged
Americans to consider leaving Bahrain.
"Private U.S. citizens should evaluate rigorously their own security
situation and should consider departing," the advisory said.