Kuwait in ‘state of war’ after mosque suicide bombing
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's interior minister said on Tuesday the country was at war with militants and would strike out at cells believed to be in the country.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Friday by a Saudi citizen on a Shiite Muslim mosque in Kuwait City which killed 27 worshippers.
"We are in a state of war. It's a war that had been decided with this cell. But there are other cells, and we will not wait for them to try their luck with us," Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah told parliament.
Kuwait has stepped up security after the attack. Kuwaiti officials said the bombing was aimed at stirring up sectarian strife in the majority Sunni Muslim state.
Arabic-language al-Qabas newspaper quoted security sources in the major oil exporting state as saying that 60 people, including Kuwaiti citizens and nationals of other Gulf states, were being held for investigation by security services.
Some had been found to have been in contact with Sunni Islamist militants with others suspected of belonging to "extremist" groups, al-Qabas reported, without elaborating.
It also said that five people suspected of involvement in Friday's mosque bombing by Saudi national Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen al-Qabaa had been referred to the public prosecutor. The five, it said, had confessed to receiving financial transfers from abroad to carry out attacks targeting houses of worship.
Al-Qabas did not name them but Kuwait's interior ministry has said it had detained the driver of the vehicle that took Qabaa to the Shi'ite mosque, the owner of the car and the owner of the house where the driver went to hide after the attack.
Kuwaiti authorities were not immediately available for comment on the al-Qabas report.
Relations have traditionally been good between the 70 percent of Kuwait's 1.4 million citizens who are Sunni Muslims and the Shiites who comprise 30 percent, but regional rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran has opened some fissures.
Al-Rai daily, another Arabic-language newspaper, said the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs permanently closed down the Fahd al-Ahmed charity on Sunday due to "repeated violations despite the warnings".
Quoting a source at the ministry, al-Rai said that the ministry had repeatedly asked the charity to comply with regulations stipulating that funds for Syrians be collected through official channels.
Officials from the charity were not immediately available to comment on the report.
US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen has described Kuwait as "the epicenter of fund-raising for terrorist groups in Syria."
The Islamic State militant group issued an audio clip purporting to be a posthumous statement by the bomber, in which he criticizes Shiites, "especially in Kuwait", for what he termed insults to Islam.
The bombing has sharply heightened regional security concerns because Islamic State appears to be making good on its threat to step up attacks in the holy fasting month of Ramadan.