The suicide bomber, who led an attack on Imam Sadiq mosque in al-Sawaber neighbourhood that left 27 people dead, was identified as a Saudi citizen, Kuwait’s interior ministry said on Sunday.
Fahed Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-qabaa entered Kuwait City on Friday morning, the same day of the attack, through Kuwait international airport.
He carried out the attack after Friday prayers at the Shiite mosque in Kuwait City, the country’s capital.
The timing of his arrival suggests he had a network already in place in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti interior ministry said it was searching for more partners and aides in this “despicable crime”, adding Qabaa had been born in 1992.
Islamic State’s Saudi Arabian arm claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque, where 2,000 worshippers were praying at the time. It was one of three attacks on three continents that day apparently linked to hardline Islamists, IS militants consider Shi’ites to be heretics and are fighting Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq and Syria.
The attack was the most significant act of Sunni militant violence in Kuwait since 2005, when an al Qaeda-linked group calling itself the Peninsula Lions clashed with security forces in the streets of Kuwait City. Nine Islamists and four security force members were killed in the gun battles
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said the bomber had no record with security forces or any background indicating terrorist activities. It confirmed he left the kingdom on Thursday bound for Bahrain.An audio message accompanied by two still photos that was posted online and promoted by Twitter accounts affiliated with the Islamic State group purports to be a final message from al-Gabbaa.
A caption below the clip calls the bomber a “soldier of the caliphate” and identifies him by the nom de guerre of Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhed.In the message, the speaker vows to pursue jihad against his enemies, particularly Shi’ites in Kuwait, saying “we are on the lookout for you.” He also addresses Islamic State group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, telling him to “be patient and swear to God that we are with you.”
He belonged to a group of activists who campaigned for the release of detainees in the Kingdom, and several of his relatives have been imprisoned on terrorism and incitement charges, Saudi-owned newspaper al-Hayat reported.
At least three suspects have been arrested, including the man who drove al-Gabbaa to the mosque and the owner of the house where the driver was staying, Kuwait’s Kuna news agency reported.
Some critics say they weren’t surprised by the attack, largely because of the country’s slow response to halting financing of terror networks.
“I was sure that terrorism will reach Kuwait,” said Khalid Al Shatti, a Shiite lawyer and former parliamentarian in the country. “As expected, these terrorist groups switched their loyalties and are now attacking funding nations.”
Friday’s attack came at a time of rising sectarian tensions within Kuwait. Earlier this year, two prominent Shiite leaders in Kuwait including Mr. Shatti were arrested for criticizing the Saudi-led war against pro-Iranian rebels in Yemen.
The bombing has renewed focus on combating sectarian violence in Gulf States such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, oil-rich Sunni monarchies that have supported the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.