Westerners in Bahrain warned of terror attack

Monday, November 10, 2003

LONDON Britain has warned its nationals of an insurgency attack targeting Western interests in Bahrain.

"We judge that there is a high threat from terrorism against Western, including British, targets," the British embassy in Manama said. "We are particularly concerned about potential threats to places where Westerners might gather."

Over the last few weeks, both Britain and the United States have received information that Al Qaida and related groups were planning attacks throughout the Persian Gulf region. Bahrain has been rocked by anti-government riots and insurgency attacks over the last two months linked to members of the majority Shi'ite community.

Bahraini security officials did not confirm the British warning of the likely prospect of an insurgency attack, Middle East Newsline reported. They said they were not aware of plans by Western embassies or nationals to close or leave the kingdom.

"You should review your security arrangements carefully," the British embassy said in a message to its nationals. "You should remain vigilant, particularly in public places."

Bahrain contains 7,000 British nationals, many of them involved in the kingdom's military and defense programs. Despite the alert, the British embassy did not announce any closure.

In February 2003, Bahrain arrested what diplomatic sources termed an insurgency cell linked to Al Qaida. Two of the five-member cell were convicted and sentenced to jail. Charges against the others were dropped for lack of evidence.

Western diplomatic sources said the British alert concerned the entire Persian Gulf region. The sources said the greatest threats appear to be in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The United States has not warned of any attack in Bahrain. But Western diplomatic sources said the level of alert in the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and U.S. embassy has risen over the last few weeks.

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