Throughout the course of 2015, there were continual security-related incidents in Bahrain which were shown to have Iranian involvement. These included shipments of arms and explosives from Iran; active terrorist groups who received training and funds from Iran and Iranian direct attempts to incite violence and unrest inside Bahrain. Some of these incidents are included in the list below.

In response to this developing threat, the Interior Minister, Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa has announced a series of measures aiming to restrict Iran’s ability to stir up trouble inside the kingdom.

This includes a committee to monitor financial transactions and donations by individuals and organizations, with a view to combatting the financing of terrorism.

Travel restrictions have been imposed on citizens, particularly those between 14 and 18, who travel to countries designated as posing a security risk. Many of the youths recently convicted of terrorist incidents had been found to have made repeated visits to Iran, Lebanon and Iraq for training and ideological support. Several key figures from such terrorist groupings have subsequently sought refuge in Iran after their identities were discovered.

Shaikh Rashid said the authorities would also take measures to “protect religious discourse against religious and political extremism as well as incitement.” This will also address attempts to politicize religious rituals and processions.

The Interior Minister said; “They have targeted the security and stability of the nation with weapons and explosives shipments. They have also attempted to destabilise the government and harm the economy. There are terrorist groups in Bahrain that have received training in Iran, Iraq and Syria and that are linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. Iran offers financial support, weapons and explosives that are smuggled into the country. This includes training in bomb-making that has led to the death and injury of several policemen.”

In early February, Bahrain’s prosecution service said it had charged 11 suspects with forming a terrorist group trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. The group was charged with possessing explosives, weapons and firearms and receiving training for terrorist purposes.

These new measures coincide with an ongoing trial in Saudi Arabia of 32 individuals accused of spying for Iran and carrying out acts of sabotage.

Over the past year, Iran has consistently expanded its interference in states across the region, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and GCC states. The evidence demonstrates that the threat is very real, showing that Iran is willing to use acts of terrorism and violence in order to aggressively pursue its agenda.

As a state lying just across the sea from Bahrain with close historical ties, in different circumstances, we would be seeking close relations with the Iranian people. However, the repeated hostile acts by the Iranian regime have made this impossible.

Five years of continued Iranian attempts to stir up unrest in Bahrain have only unified Bahrainis against this external threat. We hope that Iran’s leaders eventually recognize that such policies are counter-productive and seek to adopt a friendlier approach to their neighbours.

Major terrorism incidents in Bahrain during 2015

  • In mid-March the Bahraini authorities revealed details of a captured shipment of weapons originating from Iran intended for a terrorist group in Bahrain which had received training by Iran.
  • In late March, a suitcase of explosives being transported from Iraq, headed for Bahrain, was impounded on the Saudi causeway. A month later more explosives were confiscated in the same location, this time headed from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.
  • 6 June raid on a house in the Bahraini village of Dar Kulaib resulted in the seizure of weapons including large quantities of C4 explosives, detonators and advanced circuitry. The location was revealed by an operative working for a cell formed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
  • On 7 June the authorities announced that they had broken up the terrorist organization Al-Ashtar Brigades, which had been behind a series of attacks. Several members were arrested, while others took refuge in Iran.
  • In mid-June, yet another seizure was announced of explosives originating from Iran and destined to be used in attacks in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
  • On 14 July a militant was killed in Al-Eker while trying to plant a bomb to ambush policemen.
  • On 25 July a shipment of weapons and explosives was impounded arriving from Iran. This follows earlier discoveries of several carloads of bomb-making materials on the causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
  • On 28 July Bahrain endured the single worst terrorist atrocity in the Kingdom for well over a year, with two policemen dead and several fatally injured, following an explosion in Sitra.
  • Police officer Wajdi Saleh was killed in a terrorist bombing in Karranah on 28 August.
  • In late September the Bahraini authorities discovered a massive bomb-making factory in Nuwaidrat, stacked with several tonnes of materials provided by Iran. In the following days, Bahrain withdrew its ambassador to Tehran and Iran’s ambassador was expelled.
  • On 7 January 2016 the Bahraini authorities apprehended a terrorist cell linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. The cell went by the name of the Basta Group and was responsible for 28 July 2015 attacks which killed two policemen.

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