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Regional update as of 28th April

Regional update as of 28th April provided by Global Risk Awareness – a leading Cyber Intelligence Company

Bahrain: Security forces arrest scores on terrorism-related charges 

Bahraini security forces detained at least 28 people on terrorism-related charges across the kingdom in what was the latest crackdown on suspected militants in the recent term. State news agency sources indicated all who were arrested had reportedly been involved in plotting domestic terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, during evening hours local time, a fake device designed to appear like an explosive device was placed along the Sheikh Hamad Causeway, prompting security forces to cordon off the area. 

Analysis: The latest crackdown on suspected militants is likely to trigger retaliation in the form of low-scale attacks against security forces in addition to protests in predominately Shi’ite areas. In the recent term, these low-level type attacks have most often targeted police officers. At the same time, there is a high likelihood that demonstrations will be forcefully dispersed by security forces which could then spiral into low-level clashes.

Saudi: Security forces thwart terrorist plot targeting US Embassy, arrest scores involved 

Official Saudi press reported that security forces detained at leas 93 people including at least 65 Saudi nationals for ties to the Islamic State; at the same time, reports indicated officials had thwarted multiple terrorism plots including one which would have targeted the United States embassy in Riyadh. That plot – uncovered in mid-March – involved at least two Syrian nationals and one Saudi and would have seen a suicide car bombing attack (VBIED) strike the US compound. At least several of those detained reportedly had several rounds of ammunition and arms in their possession. 

Analysis: The recent sweeping arrests underscore the Kingdom’s genuine efforts to reign in Saudi nationals & diminish the high risk of an ISIS attack coming to fruition on Saudi soil. Moreover, it is highly likely Saudi shared intel regarding the US embassy attack plot when they intercepted the threat as the embassy closed down for a one week period on 15 March, citing serious security concerns. 

Iran: Naval forces seize Marshal Islands cargo ship, hold crew 

Iranian troops seized a Marshal Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris cargo vessel and at least 34 crew members in the Straight of Hormuz, firing warning shots and reportedly forcing the ship to enter into Iranian waters from international territory, during afternoon hours local time. Initial reports indicated the ship was in fact a US-flagged cargo vessel but Pentagon officials adamantly denied the claim, but added that it was “inappropriate” for Iranian security forces to fire shots at the vessel.  

Analysis: While it has been confirmed that no US nationals were aboard the vessel, Iran – on the homefront – is likely to attempt to portray the incident as a show of strength toward the US; that said, the US technically remains responsible for Marshal Islands’ security. If the 34 crew members – whose nationalities have not yet been publicly confirmed – are not immediately released, the US may have to become directly involved. 

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