ABU DHABI ø The government of Kuwait has come under pressure from parents of teenagers recruited by
Al Qaida-inspired groups to fight the U.S.-led
coalition in neighboring Iraq.
Kuwaiti officials said young people had been provided plane tickets to Damascus in a journey disguised as a
vacation. They said the Cabinet has discussed the activities of
so-called Islamic missionaries believed to have persuaded high school students
to leave their homes and join the Islamic war against the United States.
The parents of some of these youngsters ø in some cases
sons of prominent families ø have demanded that the government find their
Officials said the recruiters ordered the Kuwaiti
youngsters to wear Western clothes and haircuts to avoid
suspicion in Syria, Middle East Newsline reported.
In Syria, officials said, the youngsters were trained for combat against
U.S. and coalition troops. From Syria, they were transported to the Iraqi
border and picked up on the other side for the drive to such cities as
Faluja and Baghdad.
Officials said the sheikdom's security services have not ruled out that
funding and other support for the recruitment of the youngsters were
funneled through Islamic opposition parties. They said the opposition has
tried to undermine the pro-U.S. policies of Kuwait's ruling family.
"The assorted Islamic political movements are attempting to force the
state to behave according to their conditions," Ahmad Al-Rubei, a leading
Kuwaiti analyst, said. "They perceive the state to be weak, and in this
weakness they are taking every opportunity to eat the cheese piece by
piece ø gradually and methodically taking over the state and its
Al Qaida has garnered popularity amid the U.S. military
presence in Iraq and the Gulf. In 2003, Al Qaida-inspired insurgents
conducted several attacks against U.S. soldiers in Kuwait.
The leader of the Islamic recruitment effort in Kuwait has not been
formally identified. But authorities have been investigating a complaint to
authorities that a professor of Islamic culture has been sending
his students to Syria to fight the U.S. military in Iraq.
Hamed Al Ali, the professor, has been identified as a leading supporter
of Al Qaida. He was said to have been a leader of the Salafist movement in
Kuwait and has given sermons that included appeals for attacks on Americans
Officials have also not ruled out the recruitment of Kuwaiti Shi'ites to
fight the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. They said the Mahdi Army led by
Iranian-backed cleric Moqtada Sadr might have sent messages for Kuwaiti
Shi'ites to join his forces.
Sadr has criticized Kuwait for its hosting of the U.S. military and
called the sheikdom an enemy of Iraq. He has attacked Kuwait repeatedly in
his weekly sermons.