In what has become a global effort across the world to crack down on Islamic State (IS), Kuwait has arrested six men suspected of belonging to an IS terror cell that included Kuwaitis, Syrians, Australians, and a Egyptian.
According to Kuwait’s Interior Ministry, a Lebanese-born Syrian named Osama Mohammed Saeed Khaiyat confessed to supplying Islamic State with ammunition and rockets through Ukraine. Officials claim the suspect also confessed to printing badges and stamps for Islamic State members and transferring money into bank accounts in Turkey and Syria.
Kuwait has been criticized by the United States and other Western countries for not taking harsher action against terror cells believed to be supporting Islamic extremists.
It is unclear who else might be involved in this terrorist cell, although it has been reported that two Syrians and a pair of Australian-Lebanese nationals remain on the loose abroad.
Kuwait, which gained independence from Britain in 1961, has been prone to terror attacks against its predominantly Shia population. In June, 27 people were killed and another 227 injured when a suicide bomber entered a mosque during Ramadan prayers and detonated an explosive device. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
It wasn’t the first time Islamic State targeted other Muslims this year. A month earlier, in May, a new IS affiliate named “Hijaz Province” claimed responsibility for two deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia, also during Ramadan, killing at least 15. The series of attacks caused Saudi Arabia to lead air strikes against extremist rebel groups in Yemen with the support of Kuwait and four other Gulf states.
Attacks against Muslims are part of the Islamic State group’s larger agenda to create a self-declared caliphate. IS territory threads through hundreds of miles across desert land from the outskirts of Aleppo in Syria to central Iraq, bordering northern Kurdistan. The most striking difference between Islamic State and other jihadist groups like Al Qaeda is that the group wants to establish a Sunni Muslim state ruled by the most extreme version of Islam.
The recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt have brought together unlikely allies in the international community over a growing fear of expansion, and the increased threat of homegrown terrorism. Most recently, Russian authorities have confirmed their fear that there is a long-running Islamic insurgency in Russia’s southernmost state, Dagestan, which has a majority Sunni population.