Chief of Public Security Major-General Tariq Al Hassan held a Press conference on Tuesday where he provided the details about a terrorist cell investigation first announced by His Excellency the Minister of Interior Lt-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa on Saturday.
The Chief said the National Security Agency (NSA) had received information indicating there was a Bahraini terrorist cell operating in the Gulf. The cell targeted for attacks a series of sensitive locations and public figures in Bahrain. The attacks were designed to destabilise the nation's security and economy. An investigation was launched to identify the group's key players, goals, methods of financing and training.
The investigation showed that the armed group used the name Army of the Imam. The cell recruited Bahrainis to collect information on public figures and take photographs of sensitive locations. Its members were also trained in the use of weapons, explosives (including C4), supervision of other cell members, the writing of surveillance reports and the monitoring of targeted persons.
The training took place at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards facilities and the Iraqi Hezbollah facilities in Karbala and Baghdad. The Chief said that the cell members received a total of $80,000 provided to them by the mastermind of the operation, a man nicknamed Abunasser who is an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Chief said the suspects confessed to having been recruited through two Bahrainis nicknamed Mirza and Aqeel who were based in Qom, Iran. The first suspect who was arrested, Ali Al Samahiji, was recruited to join the terrorist cell when he was in Iran. He then went on to handle the selection and recruitment of more Bahrainis under the supervision of Mirza and Aqeel.
The investigation has shown that the cell consists of Bahrainis who live both inside and outside Bahrain as well as a number of non-Bahrainis. The Chief said that eight members, five of which live in Bahrain and three in Oman, were arrested last month. Four more suspects are still on the run. The investigation into the case is continuing. The first arrests were made on January 24 and the case has been referred to the Public Prosecutor.
The Chief said that some members of the group were assigned to collect information, take photographs and write reports on high-value targets including the Ministry of Interior, the Bahrain International Airport and some vital military locations. In addition, a warehouse had been allocated to store weapons. Abunasser told the cell members that the schedule of when the weapons would be smuggled into Bahrain and the plan of attack would be decided by the network’s leadership in Iran.
The Chief said that the suspects travelled to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon for training and avoided taking direct flights to and from Bahrain. The papers seized from the suspects document the group's activities while the flash drives seized from them were found to contain encrypted information which was being investigated by computer forensic experts. The records of money transfers, bank transactions and telephone calls were also seized.
The Chief thanked everyone involved in the identification and investigation of the suspects. He condemned such terror-related plots as well as other criminal activities such as vandalism and rioting that worked against the unity of Bahrain. He affirmed the Ministry's commitment to the Constitution and to international principles of human rights and vowed that those who commit criminal acts would be held to account in a court of law.
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