News that bomber was Saudi raises anx­i­ety level

Kuwaitis are dis­mayed to see the re­gion’s Sunni- Shi­ite ri­val­ries spill into their usu­ally quiet emi­rate.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Laura King and Amro Has­san laura. king@ latimes. com Times staff writer King re­ported from Cairo and spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Has­san from Ber­lin.

CAIRO — The young man landed be­fore dawn at Kuwait’s gleam­ing in­ter­na­tional air­port, author­i­ties said — and within hours had car­ried out one of the dead­li­est acts of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism to strike the nor­mally tran­quil Per­sian Gulf emi­rate.

Kuwaiti of­fi­cials said Sun­day that the sui­cide bomber who killed at least 27 wor­shipers at a Shi­ite Mus­lim mosque on Fri­day was Saudi Ara­bian, bring­ing a new level of dis­quiet to an episode that has al­ready shaken the tiny state.

With it, Kuwaitis saw dev­as­tat­ing proof that Sun­niShi­ite ri­val­ries that have roiled the Per­sian Gulf re­gion were spilling across their borders. There was fresh anx­i­ety over the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of thou­sands of young men in next- door Saudi Ara­bia, and their ev­i­dent will­ing­ness to carry out at­tacks in neigh­bor­ing states where they could move freely.

And it was the latest demon­stra­tion of the length­en­ing reach of the Sunni Mus­lim mil­i­tants of Is­lamic State, who have de­clared war on the Saudi monar­chy that is the cus­to­dian of Is­lam’s holi­est sites.

Kuwait’s hered­i­tary emirs are Sunni, but the coun­try has a long tra­di­tion of peace­ful co­ex­is­tence be­tween Sun­nis and a siz­able Shi­ite mi­nor­ity. Af­ter the mosque at­tack, Sunni re­li­gious lead­ers joined in mourn­ing for those killed.

The bomber was iden­tif ied by Kuwait’s In­te­rior Min­istry as Fa­had Suleiman Ab­dul­mohsen al- Gab­baa, born in 1992, the of­fi­cial news agency re­ported Sun­day.

Chill­ing se­cu­rity record­ings that had sur­faced on so­cial media showed the whiter­obed as­sailant tak­ing a mo­ment to gaze out at a crowd of up to 2,000 men, nearly all of them pros­trated in mid­prayer, be­fore blow­ing him­self up.

In ad­di­tion to those killed, more than 250 were wounded, and the in­te­rior of the land­mark Imam Sadiq mosque was strewn with bloody de­bris and bro­ken bod­ies. The at­tack’s sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance was mag­ni­fied by its tak­ing place dur­ing the holy month of Ramadan, and at Fri­day noon prayers, the most im­por­tant of the Mus­lim week.

Kuwaiti author­i­ties also said Sun­day that they had de­tained the driver of the ve­hi­cle that brought the at­tacker to the mosque. He was iden­ti­fied as a mem­ber of the coun­try’s large and down­trod­den state­less pop­u­la­tion known as bi­doon.

The In­te­rior Min­istry said it was still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the plot sur­round­ing the bomb­ing, but de­scribed a sus­pected ac­com­plice ar­rested ear­lier as in­volved in “de­viant ide­ol­ogy” — a term gen­er­ally used to char­ac­ter- ize Is­lamist mil­i­tancy. A gov­ern­ment- linked news­pa­per said seven sus­pects were in cus­tody, with a wave of ar­rests hav­ing be­gun Fri­day, hours af­ter the blast.

The bomb­ing was claimed by an af­fil­i­ate of Is­lamic State call­ing it­self Najd Province, a his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence to the re­gion sur­round­ing the Saudi cap­i­tal, Riyadh. Off­shoots of the group gen­er­ally as­sign them­selves names af­fil­i­ated with their ge­o­graphic base.

The Sunni ex­trem­ists of Is­lamic State con­sider Shi­ites to be heretics and have re­peat­edly called on fol­low­ers to tar­get them. Sim­i­lar at­tacks have taken place at mosques in Saudi Ara­bia and in Ye­men, where a Saudi- led Sunni mil­i­tary coali­tion has car­ried out more than three months of airstrikes tar­get­ing Shi­ite Mus­lim rebels known as Houthis.

Is­lamic State has urged stepped- up at­tacks dur­ing Ramadan, which be­gan last week. The mil­i­tant group also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for an as­sault Fri­day on a beach re­sort in Tu­nisia that left at least 38 peo­ple dead, most of them Euro­pean.

Jaber al- Helo As­so­ci­ated Press

COFFINS, draped with Kuwait’s f lag and bear­ing vic­tims of Fri­day’s sui­cide blast in the emi­rate, ar­rive in the Shi­ite holy city of Najaf in neigh­bor­ing Iraq. Shi­ite Mus­lims from around the globe seek to be buried in Najaf.

Kuwait News Agency

THE BOMBER was ID’d as Fa­had Suleiman Ab­dul­mohsen al- Gab­baa.

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