Update: Bomb attack in Bahrain
The IED bomb attack in Bahrain on July 28 set both Bahraini and Saudi security forces on high alert as a newly emerged group “Saraya Wa’adullah” claimed responsibility for the attack. The powerful explosive device detonated as a Bahraini police patrol was passing by a junction in Sitra, 12 kilometres south of capital Manama. Two policemen were killed and four severely wounded.
According to analysis by 5 Dimension Consultants based in Dubai the device is the most powerful and lethal to have been detonated in Bahrain since the February 2011 uprising. They say “the attack, according to a Bahraini security official, appears to be the work of Saraya al-Ashtar, an Iranian linked/trained Shia militant group in Bahrain. The attackers may also have used quantities of C4 and RDX explosives that the Bahraini authorities suspect were smuggled from Iran and Iraq through gulf maritime smuggling routes“.
A few days ago the Bahraini authorities intercepted a shipment of C4 and weapons being smuggled by sea from Iran along with Bahraini Shia militants who had apparently received military training in Iran and Iraq.
The 5 Dimensions team added, “The political and diplomatic atmosphere heated up considerably over the past 96 hours between Iran on one hand and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia on the other due to intercepted explosives and weapons shipments originating from Iran and destined to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Therefore this latest bomb attack will likely increase diplomatic tensions between Iran and Bahrain/Saudi Arabia. An increased war of words and even recalling ambassadors we believe is the most likely outcome“.
The probability of attacks in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere was highlighted in our report on the Kuwait mosque bombing on 26th June.
Bahraini and Saudi security forces remain on high alert as a newly emerged group “Saraya Wa’adullah” (curiously named after one of Hezbollah’s operations) claimed responsibility for the attack and made further threats against “Saudi invaders” as well as the “mercenaries” of the Bahraini royal family.
The 5 Dimensions team said, “The language of the claim is similar to previous statements by the now defunct Bahraini Shia militant group “Saraya Al-Ashtar”. An official within the Bahraini security forces stated that the explosive device, which killed two policemen and severely wounded five more, was of a C4 military grade, similar to other C4 shipments intercepted while being smuggled from Iran since earlier this year.“
They added that, “The Saudi and Bahrainis are extremely suspicious of Iran and its motives as the security services in both countries believe that elements within Iran may have ordered the attack. One senior official within the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told 5 Dimensions that “the problem with the Iranians is that they are schizophrenic as far as foreign policy is concerned and that’s both confusing and unsettling for us. On one hand we receive positive overtures from President Rouhani’s circle and on the other we see IRGC and Quds Force, egged on by Ayatollah Khamanaei’s combative statements, organise terror attacks and smuggle weapons and explosives into our shores”.”
The fear is that the GCC countries could become victims of an ideological power struggle within the Iranian government circles. The IRGC and Quds Force may have interpreted the nuclear deal with 5+1 as a license to pursue their regional agenda, which includes Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s eastern province.
Analysing the implications 5 Dimensions said, “We expect further efforts from the IRGC and Quds Force to instruct their affiliated militant groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to mount other similar attacks. Indeed the situation is already tense in the predominantly Shia city of Qatif in Saudi’s Eastern Province, were around midnight on 28 July, a Saudi policeman was killed by gunshot and a further two policemen were wounded by suspected pro-Iranian Shia militants.”
The fear remains that ISIS could take advantage of such heightened tensions and strike again against Shia targets within Saudi, Bahrain or Kuwait.
The 5 Dimensions team anticipate further attacks of this kind in the near future and urge anyone needing further information to contact them; contact details can be found on their profile page on SecurityMiddleEast.com.