Remember the Bahraini terror cell? The ones arrested and released and re-arrested and re-released in 2003/2004? Remember how there was no news in the local papers about them, after the MISinformation Ministry banned papers from covering their story while the rest of the world ranted and raved about the Salafi wave of terrorism? Remember how one Bahraini paper was even taken to court for breaking the ban and annoucing that the terror suspects have been released?

Well, this isn't a history lesson for I am no historian. I am just a silly observer whose blood boils everytime the name of my country is tarnished and reflected in a bad light internationally. Locally, we have the right to speak out about injustice, nag and condemn the stupidity which governs us day in, day out.. but when our dirty underwear is visible for all to see, this is when I draw the line and take a more reserved stand, for I am a Bahraini at heart, and Bahrainis, like ostriches, bury their heads in the sand when the going gets tough.

Again, this isn't a rant about me or the other normal Bahrainis. This is a rant about a cancer which has plagued our societies and which we and those in charge have not shown any serious signs yet of a willingness to deal with it and root it out from our simple lives. This disease is called religion extremism, which I believe should be dealt using extreme measures. Call me an extremist, but those plotting to terrorise innocents just because they wrongly believe they are the apostles of God on Earth; those who have appointed themselves as the gate-keepers of Heaven while making life a living hell for everyone around them; and those who are blindly following fundamentalist doctrines without stopping and asking themselves why and to what end would the gory killing of others do to their faith, should be met with their own medicine and burned in a huge incinerator - a very relica of the Jahanam inferno they so willingly warn everyone who doesn't share their zeal for backwardness, polygamy, abuse of women and children, anarchy and cave-dwelling fixation with.

Why am I so incensed with those hardliners, who are today very much amongst the movers and shakers of society, in a Bahrain, which is apparantly moderate and forward-thinking, when and only when, compared to its neighbours?

Read this and you will see why. A new book just published links the so-called Bahrain terror cell to a plot to attack New York's subways with poison gas.

Service Provider

This is how Bahrain is introduced in the book:

The King Fahd Causeway, connecting the countries of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, is seen by many Saudis--both religious and not--as an illicit passage.
It is steel and concrete as metaphor--tied, on one shoreline, to a truce struck between the Saudi ruling family and religious traditionalists in the kingdom. The Sauds get virtually limitless wealth, a healthy chunk of which they share with their dour clerical partners and their Wahhabist accountants. In exchange, the royals receive a stamp of religious approval, as the true protectors of the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina, as well as an understanding that 25,000 or so members of the royal family can do, more or less, anything they please, while the country's 27 million citizens live under strict religious laws mandating traditional dress, shrouding of women, prohibitions against the consumption of alcohol or premarital sex. Adultery carries a death sentence.
For such indulgences, and countless others, you cross the bridge to the island principality of Bahrain--a country of almost 700,000, with high-rise hotels, a playboy king, a base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and significant cash flow from its role as a discreet "service provider" for Saudi Arabia. The lives of Saudis, and Bahrainis, are thoroughly framed by this arrangement, and its attendant hypocrisies. And both suffer the presence of its by-product: groups of stealthy, violent religious purists, graced with many opportunities to feel self-righteous.

Terrorism and Honey:

One such group was traveling across the King Fahd bridge toward Bahrain on Feb. 13, 2003, when they were picked up by Bahraini police. The United States, specifically the CIA, was behind the arrest. The NSA had picked up calls and e-mails from a cluster of Bahrainis that were troubling--boastful talk of what should be done to infidels, and some problem phrases, such as picking up "honey pots." "Honey" is often terrorist code for destructive items.
The Bahraini group consisted of five men: two gunrunners of a traditional criminal stripe, and three men with strong jihadist credentials. All were put through the basics of law enforcement procedure that are not necessarily common in their part of the world. Their belongings--cars, cell phones, wallets--were held in a secure place, used to glean further leads, and their apartments were searched.
One of the jihadists, Bassam Bokhowa, an educated fiftyish professional, with computer skills, had visited an apartment in Saudi Arabia. And there, a joint Saudi-U.S. counterterrorist unit, formed after the meeting with Bandar in his study, found a computer. The contents were dumped onto a separate hard drive, which was sent to the United States for imaging--a way to suck out digitalia, encrypted or not.

Al Mubtakar: A Holy Grail for Terrorists:

That's where they found it: plans for construction of a device called a mubtakkar. It is a fearful thing, and quite real.
Precisely, the mubtakkar is a delivery system for a widely available combination of chemicals--sodium cyanide, which is used as rat poison and metal cleanser, and hydrogen, which is everywhere. The combination of the two creates hydrogen cyanide, a colorless, highly volatile liquid that is soluble and stable in water. It has a faint odor, like peach kernels or bitter almonds. When it is turned into gas and inhaled, it is lethal. For years, figuring out how to deliver this combination of chemicals as a gas has been something of a holy grail for terrorists.

Dan Brown Vs Ron Suskind
Da Vinci Vs Bin Laden

Had the previous excerpts been from Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, I would have continued reading while sipping my Chai. But reading Ron Suskind's Bin Laden Code, was a different beast altogether because the incidents, people and locations are too close to my home turf for comfort. While Bahrain is home, New York is just a stone throw away for me and the Big Apple has always been dear to my heart, with lots of friends, colleagues and great memories. While I rarely use the subway because I am mildly claustrophobic, my prayers are with the millions who have no other choice but to put their lives at the whim of fanatics whose only glory lies in mayhem and the suffering and heartaches of innocents, everytime they ride the trains to return home after a hard day's work.

The questions which need immediate answers now are as follows:
1. How true are the allegations made in this new book?
2. What is the link of the alledged Bahrain terror cell to the New York subway plot?
3. What will the Bahrain government do to diffuse the connection and the negative publicity such allegations bring to the kingdom and all the other peace-loving Bahrainis?
4. Will the Bahraini public be informed of what is happening in their own country or will the Press be once again oppressed, gagged and barred from carrying out its sacred duty?
5. If the Bahrain terror cell was indeed involved in the Mubtakkar development, why were they set loose on the streets again? Who are the officials involved in interrogating them? What action will be taken against them, considering that the people they let go weren't only a danger to themselves and society, but also involved in international terror plots?
6. If technology and know how of developing such unimaginable weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are readily available to terrorists, how immune are we from their attacks at home?
7. What contingency plans are there, if any, to protect innocents in a place as small as Bahrain from such terror schemes?
8. Is the government serious in its effort to monitor and curb religious fanatism or is the national security apparatus only mission to thwart dissidence among its unruly Shia population and confronting demonstrations and public gatherings with an iron fist while turning a blind eye to growing Sunni extremism and international terrorism?


Darius said...

I don't understand "religious" fundamentalism either. But I find that the same, "I know The Truth" attitude of extreme unreflective egotism also characterizes Christian fundamentalism here in the US.

You can hear the intolerance and mean-spiritedness in their words. I'm convinced the only reason they're not terrorists in God's name themselves is they happen to live in a country where they're fat, rich, and happy. Even then, they're mean. So I can just picture it if they happened to be impoverished and on the receiving end of social injustice.

Probably about the most impossible thing on earth to do is talk a fundamentalist out of his or her beliefs. Logic or appeals to shared real-life experience - it just doesn't apply.

So I think that realistically, reducing the terrorist problem requires more than "getting tough." It also requires addressing issues of injustice and poverty. Those are things which really could be addressed. Otherwise what you get are really mad fundamentalists, and that spells terrorism.

Cerebralwaste said...

Sadly SBG the FBI/CIA built a replica of the device from the found plans and it worked. 5 million people a day use the NY Subway system. Imagine the impact that would have and then think of what the US response would be. Personally I don't want to even comprehend it either but we all must. When your dealing with a mentality that is willing to stage events like this your not going to be able to play "paddy cake" with them. They must be hit hard and fast. They must be removed like the cancer they are lest more carnage will happen.

You are also correct that the root cause must be addressed so more of the cockroaches aren't bred into society to kill and mame when they feel like.

Ok.. I've done my venting for the day!

Um Naief said...

When I worked for the Minister of State, we talked about this terror stuff. He told me that, in times past, whenever they received info from the U.S., FBI, CIA, it was always correct.

I know a guy, my husband works side-by-side w/ him, that is friends w/ some of these guys that were arrested. He's a wahabi, in a way... but more open minded. He says they're innocent, but whose to say.

I know, first hand, some things that young guys have said to me and it was frightening... to hear the way they think, especially about the U.S. I know it's hard to see such negative things written about your country, I struggle w/ this too - as an American - but sometimes this negative stuff HAS to get out there. I just hope that they aren't spreading lies. But, what's even scarier, is if it's TRUE!

Really great story here!

Sans said...

I think there has to be a clear difference between faith and religion, NOT a difference between moderate and extreme religious values. One rotten apple in a basket gives all the other apples a bad smell. Whether we have to be in a basket and then whine about how the few rotten apples are giving us a bad smell and a bad name is clearly a choice.

If God us created us, we have also been blessed with a brain to make the right choice.

Guess we have been through this road before...
Did God create us Sunnis, Shias and Bahrainis...
Whose creation are these herds? And why be proud of associating with any of this?

You, I, and all the others who have the ability to communicate, have to spread the message that there is honour in respecting the other person.

AbuRasool said...

Interesting post SBG. Whatever happened to that alleged ‘terrorist group’? Have they been tried? Sentenced? Jailed? Released? Where are they now? Are they free?

These and other questions could raised re the many ‘uncovered’ plots during the past decades. Then forgotten.

Personally, I have come across several 'plots' uncovered by our valiant ministry of interior in Bahrain. All were fabrications. I specially fancy the one from summer of 1975 (because I happened to be indirectly linked with it). That summer, “the- never-sleeping-eyes- of- our- security-forces” uncovered a whole ship (yes! باخرة) full of arms and explosives ready to unload on the Bahrain shores. Of course the whole thing died after a couple of weeks of mass arrests. No ship was found or photographed and no weapons or explosives were found. Not even a kitchen knife. Things went quite , until hell was raised following the uncovering by “the- never-sleeping-eyes- of- our- security-forces” of yet diabolic plot. For a time it looked as if life in Bahrain was a series of uncovered plots. Each time scores of people are arrested. Some die under torture.

Your questions are interesting and call for some reflection. They invoke many other questions. These reflect the frustrations left after what we started to know the details of the the hoax, the spin on the WMD and the infamous 45-minutes Iraq needed to launch an attack on the civilized world., i.e. Saddam’s Armageddon plot.

Interestingly, the same spin has been revised recently. It appears that Iran, will need just 30-minutes to put the world in flames. ( )

My point is to be on guard when we are fed these 'intelligence reports'. To paraphrase a cliché : Intelligence services are not that intelligent.


Ahmed said...

Interesting post, thanks

Um Naief said...

Ted Koppel (who was w/ ABC News for 42 yrs) will be coming into our studio tomorrow evening to do a recording for some show he's doing on Bahrain. I have no idea what it's about... but will soon find out. It's for a public radio station in Washington DC.

Interesting.... because what's been happening as of late really?!

Haitham Salman said...

Very interesting post SBG.
It is the new cancer
and rooting it out will be very hard.
It starts with the beleive of having the absolute truth then intolernace to everybody who does not share it and then labling them as infidals. They seems to have strange obssession with very simplistic calssification process though which every body as either one of them or infidal. Once you get the second label, you are worthless and god will reward who ever kills you. And why to kill only one infidal, why not plan for mass murder .. it is more effective. What a twisted and sick brain that hold these thoughts.

Bassam Bukhowa said...

Abdulhadi, thanks. All, would you please be more respectful and trusting to your fellow countrymen. You're all going overboard (you know, the "holier than though" catches pretty fast here). It's not me that I wish you would defend as much as it is Bahrain's people and name. The US doesn't care how bad we look and will throw this sort of lie time and again for it's own puposes. Look how much Saudi Arabia is going through and still the US papers are after blood there. They are relentlessly trying to tie all and everyone to terrorism no matter what Islamic faction you belong to (even Sikhs!?). It really comes down to the racism that plagues many people everywhere around the world today. As the world becomes smaller, ignorance and intolerence really start to show. Muslims don't need to accept this from a country that sees mass destruction of other countries as a way keeping its own safety. Can we keep to our own issues and concerns, because I'm sure that the US has enough lawyers, spies, weapons, and muscle to look after its own. They are not here for anyone's sake but themselves. When they are actually part of the problem we should not give ear to their complaints. Why take sides with them against Sunni's unless YOU are also part of the problem. And no...killing you (or anyone) is not my solution to our differences. Maybe killing me and my seven children is yours ? some here have shown so much spite I don't doubt it is to them. Let's find out where real extremism lies shall we ? I would guess it much closer than some may imagine.

P.S. Somebody talk about the latest constitutional court ruling will you ?

A non-convicted Arab-Muslim terrorrist:
Bassam Bokhowa

01 said...

I am halfway through the One Percent Doctrine (extensively quoted); the problems (implicitly acknowledged) are that they are based on "intelligence"; in fact, it seems an open question whether the methods used are actually illegal under US law. Certainly data collected through this approach does not come close to satisfying legal requirements for evidence (fourth amendment safeguards against unreasonable search and siezure).

One of the encouraging signs of late has been the Supreme Court ruling Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which reversed the Presidents fiat that detainees of the "war on terror" did not have the right to challenge their status (it took a lot of pressure, i think also a supreme court ruling, before the Executive began the military tribunal process).

The problem with America is that there is no monolithic American opinion -- there are Americans who believe that Arabs and terrorists are synonymous, and there are the half of americans who didnt vote for that guy the second go-round. I know that it shames me to know that my country has turned its back on so many of the principles on which it was founded when we start a war based on lies, deception, and invade a country to impose the same sort of casual repression we were supposed to be stopping. (If you are interested in such things, there is a section in the Ron Suskind book about how the President declassified the portions of gathered intelligence and kept the qualifiers and doubts classified. And, oh yeah, how the decision was made to torture an insane person).

fire alarm said...

A very interested post. Great read.

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