Kuwait mosque bombing
Part of 2015 Ramadan attacks
Locational-Imam as-Sadiq Mosque
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Coordinates29°22′36″N 47°58′35″E / 29.3766007°N 47.976474115°E / 29.3766007; 47.976474115Coordinates: 29°22′36″N 47°58′35″E / 29.3766007°N 47.976474115°E / 29.3766007; 47.976474115
Date26 June 2015
12PM (GMT+3)
TargetShia Muslim worshippers
Attack type
Suicide bombing
Deaths27[1]
Injured227
Perpetrators Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[2]
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq Mosque
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq Mosque
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq Mosque (Kuwait)

A suicide bombing took place on 26 June 2015 at a Shia mosque in Kuwait. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the attack.[2] Kuwait's Emir arrived at the location of the incident after a short period of time.[4] Twenty-seven people were killed and 227 people were wounded.

Three other Islamist attacks took place on the same day in France, Tunisia, and Somalia. The attacks followed an audio message released three days earlier by ISIS senior leader, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, encouraging militants everywhere to attack the stated enemies of ISIS during the month of Ramadan. No definitive link between the attacks has yet been established. One attack, at a French factory, resulted in the beheading of one person; another, at a Tunisian beach resort, killed 38, most of them British tourists; and the other, an attack on an African Union base undertaken by Al-Shabaab, killed at least 70.[5]

Background

Main article: Kuwait and state-sponsored terrorism

Kuwait has been frequently accused of supporting terrorism financing within its borders.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] Kuwait has been described as the world's biggest source of terrorism funding, particularly ISIS and Al-Qaeda.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] In 2014, David S. Cohen, then Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, accused the Kuwaiti government of supporting terrorism.[10] Since the early 1990s, accusations of Kuwait funding terrorism have been very common and come from a wide variety of sources including intelligence reports, government officials, scholarly research, and renowned journalists.[6][7][8][12][13][14][11][15][9][10] Kuwait is listed as sources of militant money in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[16][17] Kuwait is described as a "source of funds and a key transit point" for al-Qaeda and other militant groups.[17][16]

The Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Kuwait,[18][19] located in the Sawabir district in Sharq area, which is a part of the Capital Governorate.[20] The mosque is attended mainly by Shia Muslim worshippers.

This attack was a part of the strategic terrorism of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, who consider Shia Islam to be heresy.[21] In late May 2015, after the Qatif and Dammam mosque bombings, ISIL released a voice message calling on Muslims to clear the Arabian Peninsula of its Shia population.[22]

Bomb explosion

A suicide bomber attacked the mosque during Friday prayers in Muslim holy month of Ramadan, factors that made the mosque more crowded than usual.[21] At least eight people were immediately killed in the blast, which heavily damaged parts of the building.[23][24] A witness said that the bomber entered the last row between the worshipers and detonated his device.[18][19] Another witness, Parliament member Khalil al-Salih, who was in the mosque during the attack, said the same. He added "The explosion was really hard. The ceiling and wall got destroyed". He added that more than 2,000 people were praying there at that time.[25]

Victims

Twenty-seven people were killed, consisting of 18 Kuwaitis, three Iranians,[26] two Indians,[27] one Saudi,[28] one Pakistani and one Bedoon.[29] Another 227 people were wounded in the attack, of whom 40 were still hospitalized on 28 June.[30] Eight of the deceased victims were sent to Peace Valley cemetery, in the Shia holy city of Najaf, Iraq, by an official state plane.[31]

Responsibility and investigation

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant identified the bomber as Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid, and said in a statement posted on social media that he had targeted a "temple of the rejectionists" – a derogative term used towards Shias. By the following day, Kuwaiti authorities had arrested several people in connection with the attacks, including the driver of the car that took the bomber to the mosque,[32] and the owner of the house he stayed in, which initial investigations showed that he is a supporter of "extremist and deviant ideology".[33][34][35] The Ministry of Interior released a statement on its website two days after, identifying the perpetrator as Fahd Suleiman al-Qabba (born 1992[33]), a Saudi citizen. The statement added that the terrorist arrived in the country on a commercial flight on the day of the attack.[3] In his Instagram account, the arrested owner of the car,[30] posted pictures of him giving lessons to kids in a mosque in the Sulaibiya area. His account was suspended in accordance with Instagram terms.[36]

According to local newspapers, the perpetrators were told 20 days before to commit an operation that will "Shake Kuwait up", and let them choose the time and location. After picking the location, they contacted ISIL leaders about their plans via WhatsApp and e-mail, and checked the mosque for a two-week period. The source says that the explosives arrived at terrorist's house by partners from Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, the driver stopped at the parking lot of the mosque, along with suicide bomber at 11:00 am. Both of them waited until the mosque got crowded with worshipers. The suspected suicide bomber then went out holding a device, and when he opened his hand the bomb exploded. CCTV clip indicates that the suicide bomber walked into the mosque with his left hand crossed at his stomach. After the crime, the perpetrators were planning to escape Kuwait, but the rapid response of the Ministry of the Interior left them with no time to do so.[37][38] The day of the attacks has been dubbed "Bloody Friday" by international media.

Two weeks later, Saudi authorities said that they had arrested three brothers suspected to be involved in the attack.[39][40] On 14 July, the public prosecutor charged twenty-nine people involved in the attack - including the two Saudi brothers[41] - and one still at large.[42] The public prosecutor demanded the death penalty for eleven suspects.[43]

Trial

Criminal Court

Most sessions were public. Eleven suspects were released after the 6 August session, and the trial was deferred to the 10 August to assign new lawyers to those suspects without legal representatives. After the trial, the lawyer of the 9th and 11th suspects stepped down from defending the ninth suspect, as his testimony contradicted that of the eleventh. The lawyer of the 26th suspect also stepped down for "private reasons". The first suspect's lawyer also stepped down claiming the same reason. The first suspect's, Adel Eidan, the man who drove the bomber to the mosque and brought the explosives from the Saudi brothers near the Kuwaiti-Saudi border and gave shelter to the bomber after he arrived from Saudi Arabia, made the claim that he wanted to bomb the mosque without killing anyone.[44] On the 15 August session, a lawyer was fined 100 KWD (~$330) for not showing up without an excuse, and another attorney was assigned for his clients. On the same session, one of the suspect's claim that he was tortured was refuted by the Forensic Medicine doctors. All session were public except the fourth session, and the suspects were able to see and contact their lawyers. Some females suspects were charged with hiding and destroying important evidence. For example, the twentieth suspect destroyed Fahd al-Qabba's (the bomber's) mobile phone.[45] On 14 September 2015, the court ruled that 15 out of the 29 suspects had been found guilty, with seven receiving death sentences (five in absentia).[46]

Appeals and Cassation Court

The Appeals court reduced the sentence of ISIS leader in Kuwait Fahad Muharib to 15 years in prison, and upheld Eidan's sentence. With this, Eidan is the only defendant in Kuwait to receive the death penalty. The cases of the five other defendants sentenced in absentia were not brought before the higher courts as their charges can only be challenged when they appear.

The Cassation Court upheld all of the Appeals Court's sentences.[47]

Aftermath

Although Kuwait is the world's biggest financier of Islamic terrorism,[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] the Kuwaiti government has not implemented any reforms to tackle Islamic extremism in Kuwait. The late Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah arrived at the crime scene minutes after the attack,[4][18] as was the speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament, who called for an urgent meeting.[48] The cabinet convened an emergency session later in the afternoon.[18]

Several pictures were posted in social media and local newspapers showing men smeared with blood outside the mosque, a row of victims wrapped in white body bags, and the damage the mosque received.[25] Calls for blood donations have been made.[49][50] After receiving sufficient blood, the rest of the donors were told to come back after iftar – the meal eaten after sunset that marks the end of fasting.[51] According to a Blood Bank supervisor, the bank received 1300 donors by the end of first day.[52] The wounded were sent to more than five hospitals across the country.[53]

Several private hospitals announced that they will treat any victim of the incident for free.[54] Stuttgart Hospital in Germany announced that they will treat the victims for free. Some of the injured were sent there. The German Vivantes medical group sent medical staff to Kuwait.[55]

Funeral

The condolence acceptance was held in Grand Mosque, the country's largest Sunni mosque on Saturday, 27 June. The Emir, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, former Prime Minister, other ministers, MPs, and high-ranked officials all attended.[56] According to the Arab Times, thousands paid their respects.[57]

At least 35,000 Kuwaitis, expatriates and mourners from the GCC countries attended the burial at Ja'fari Cemetery in Sulaibikhat.[58] Paramedics were on site and helped those who fainted due to the hot temperature which reached 45 °C.[30] Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim said at the funeral: "The unity of the people of our country is incredible [...] If you look around you will see Sunnis and Shias, Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, all present to give their condolences to the families of the victims."[59][60]

First anniversary and Mosque's restoration and Emir's visit

The patriotic spirit manifested by the people of Kuwait and their love, devotion and allegiance to their homeland would fend off all criminal and terrorist acts.

Sabah Al-Sabah, [61]

The Mosque was renovated and reopened about one year later in June 2016. The Emir of Kuwait, along with Sheikh Nasir al-Sabah, the former Prime Minister of Kuwait, and other members of the royal family visited the mosque and led a voluntary prayer there. Sheikh Nawwaf al-Sabah, the Crown Prince of Kuwait, was quoted praising national unity, adding "Kuwait's leaders, government and people are a single family that are united through both good and trying times." The Minister of Justice and Minister of Islamic Affairs Yaqoub al-Sane' was also present.

Relatives of the victims applauded the visit, saying it was a reflection of the national unity the terrorists were trying to undermine.[61]

The Speaker of the Parliament at the time, Marzouq al-Ghanim, recalled the Emir's comment that "those are my children" after his security guards warned him about the dangers of going out in the open immediately after a terrorist attack.[57][62]

Second anniversary

On the second anniversary of the attack, an exhibition was opened to document the attack.[63]

Surveillance video

Three years after the incident, a surveillance footage showing the perpetrator walking inside the mosque and detonating himself, along with the immediate effects of the explosion was released.[64]

Lawsuit against the Kuwaiti Government

Main article: Kuwait and state-sponsored terrorism

After attacks targeting Shia in other parts of the Gulf region took place one month before the incident, and death threats against prominent Kuwaiti Shia scholars, such as Muhammad Baqir Al-Muhri,[65] the Kuwaiti government promised to take "serious measures" to protect Shia Muslims. In the aftermath of the incident, a lawsuit accusing the Kuwaiti government of negligence was filed. While the appeals court ordered the government guilty and ordered it to reimburse the victims, the Supreme Court claims that the government is not guilty, stating that the government took "sufficient measures" and citing "compelling circumstances."[66][67]

Response

Local

...Those are my sons

Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Sabah, [68]

Although Kuwait is the world's biggest financier of Islamic terrorism,[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] the Kuwaiti government has not implemented any reforms to tackle Islamic extremism in Kuwait. All segments of Kuwaiti society supposedly released statements condemning the attack. Kuwait's Emir came to the location of the incident after a short period of time.[4] He was warned that it was dangerous for him to get out, to which he replied "Those are my children".[68] The Mosque's administration released a statement one day after the attack, condemning it and showing appreciation to the Emir for coming, and offering their condolences to the Emir, the Crown Prince, and the families of the martyrs.[69] The Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, visited the wounded and condemned the attack, saying, "This incident targets our internal front, our national unity. But this is too difficult for them and we are much stronger than that."[25] The country's Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Yaqoub Al-Sanea, called the attack "a terrorist and criminal act that threatens our security and targets our national unity".[2] The Emir ordered re-construction of the mosque,[70] although a few days before a Sunni business owner said his company is ready to do it for free.[71]

International reactions

International Organisations

Gulf States

Arab States

Others

See also

References

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