In the troubled times we live in, numerous states have been forced to consider measures like withdrawal of citizenship to protect civilians against terrorists who are determined to kill indiscriminately.


In recent months Canada has been revoking passports of those travelling to Iraq and Syria to join the “Islamic State” terrorist group. Countries like Germany and the UK have also been considering similar measures. The British Home Secretary has recently made use of its powers to withdraw citizenship from those involved in terrorism abroad.


In September last year, a video surfaced featuring three Bahraini members of ISIS. They called on Bahraini extremists to join ISIS; to attack their “apostate” Government; and to murder Bahraini Shia.


The vast majority of Bahrainis are naturally opposed to the objectives and methods of ISIS, particularly ISIS’s hatred of all those who think differently, including other Muslim sects; ISIS’s intolerant ideology; and the harm ISIS has caused to the region. However, it is clear that the group has succeeded in reaching out to a tiny proportion of misled and disturbed individuals. The question is what to do about this threat.


Firstly, any Bahraini recruited into ISIS will almost certainly be expected to engage in acts of violence and terrorism, either in Iraq or Syria. As the Youtube video testifies – ISIS has made clear its intention of targeting Gulf states and Bahraini citizens.


In these circumstances, the Bahraini Government is absolutely right to use the powers available to it to prevent the return of terrorists who have travelled abroad, to target those who plan to engage in acts of terrorism inside Bahrain and other states, and to dissuade others from associating themselves with ISIS and other terrorist groups.


On 31 January the Bahraini government clarified that the majority of those who had their citizenship revoked are based overseas, but have the right to appeal through legal channels.


The principle reasons for withdrawing citizenship include the following:

·        Membership of terrorist organizations fighting abroad

·        Perpetrating terrorist bombings

·        Smuggling weapons for terrorist aims

·        Financing organizations with the aim of carrying out terrorist operations

·        Joining terrorist cells to attack the interests of the Kingdom, undermine stability and kill Bahraini citizens

·        Working to establish a terrorist group and providing weapons training with the aim of engaging in terrorist acts

·        Incitement of the use of force to undermine stability and violently bring down the state


These are all charges of a highly serious nature and few would disagree that those guilty of such charges are highly dangerous individuals who pose a severe threat to the safety of the public.


However, it is the authorities’ responsibility to demonstrate that tangible evidence exists for each of these individuals and that the charges are justified, particularly as many are likely to appeal.


It is understood that around 20 of these figures are associated with foreign terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Many of the names on this list come from well-known Sunni families.


Turki Al-Binali is a prominent extremist preacher and propagandist from ISIS. Mohammed Mubarak Al-Binali, Mohammed Isa Al-Binali and Ayoub Al-Murbati all featured in the notorious Youtube video which threatened attacks against Bahrain. Abdulaziz Al-Jowder was reportedly involved in a suicide operation just a few days ago in Diyala in Iraq.

Meanwhile, many of those on this list are closely associated with militant groups linked to the Bahraini opposition, including the 14 February Coalition which claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist bombings. Around eight of those on the list are reportedly based in London, a stronghold for the Islamic Freedom Movement, which has been proved to have been funded by Iran.


According to the pro-opposition Al-Wasat newspaper, 12 of those on the exclusion list are Shia clerics based abroad. Some of these are known to be associated with Ayatollah Khomeini’s principle of Welayat Al-Faqih, which proclaims the abolishment of all other forms of government and imposing rule by Ayatollahs.


However, once again, we would expect the authorities to demonstrate full respect for their human rights obligations in demonstrating why each of the figures on this list are deserving of such severe measures and why these individuals pose a threat to Bahrain.


Such a move – particularly in taking measures against 72 individuals at the same time – will of course be controversial. However, several of these figures have made specific threats to attack Bahraini citizens. The evidence is there on Youtube.


In conclusion many lives have been saved by the decisive intervention of the authorities against individuals associated with a number of terrorist groups who hold ideologies advocating attacking innocent civilians for the sake of their extremist and sectarian agendas.


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