Al-Qaeda MPs in Kuwait?

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 17

Speaking on the U.S.-funded Arab language TV station al-Hurra, the former head of the Kuwaiti security services, Mashaal Jarrah, discussed the infiltration of two al-Qaeda members into the Kuwait parliament, without specifying whether these were current or former legislators. The revelations detailed in the Kuwait daily al-Seyassah added extra embarrassment to a country that has been shaken from its complacency following the attacks of last January. [] Evidence of local pro-Qaeda sympathies had already surfaced from the Kuwaiti origin of high-ranking members in the organization, such as its nominal spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (captured in Pakistan in March 2003) and Omar al-Faruq (arrested in June 2002 and believed to have been active in linking al-Qaeda with groups in Southeast Asia). But this year the emirate witnessed scandals of high-ranking military officers prosecuted for plotting anti-U.S. attacks, accusations of ‘sleeping cells’ in the country’s security agencies and armed confrontations on the streets (see Terrorism Focus, Volume II, Issue 02).

Investigations into the causes of the jihad-friendly environment in the aftermath of those attacks focused on the role played by the influence of salafist and Muslim Brotherhood members in the Ministry of Education—whose syllabus was once described by a Kuwaiti Shi’ite legislator as “enough to turn your hair white,” for it’s potential inculcation of takfir (excommunication) and militant jihadist values among the nation’s youth. Conservative political currents are strong in Kuwait, with 21 of the 50-strong legislature described as Islamists.

Jarrah’s own focus of blame for the phenomenon, according to the Arab Times, is on the number of unregulated mosques in the emirate outside the control of the Kuwaiti religious authorities, whose radical imams are being exploited by al-Qaeda to spread its ideology. [] The former security chief’s allegations may remain unproven, but the fact that they were made at all hints at continuing unease at the level of radical Islamist views in the emirate. This is the first time a senior officer in the security authorities has officially admitted that al-Qaeda has infiltrated Kuwait, the closest ally to the United States that is home to an expatriate population in excess of 35,000 Americans.