Details emerge of Kuwait mosque bomber’s path to radicalisation

Fahd Suleiman Abdulmohsen Al Qaba’a, 23, was something of a loner who held ultra-conservative beliefs from a young age, despite his immediate family being considered moderates, Justin Vela reports.

Fahd Suleiman Abdulmohsen Al Qaba’a has been identified as the suicide bomber who carried out a deadly attack claimed by ISIL on the Shiite Al Imam Al Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City on June 26, 2015. Kuna/Handout/AFP Photo
Powered by automated translation

Fahd Suleiman Abdulmohsen Al Qaba’a, arrived at the Al Imam Al Sadeq mosque last Friday. He got out of the car quickly and entered the building. The car’s driver sped off.

Moments later, Al Qaba’a detonated the explosives he was carrying. Twenty-seven worshippers inside the mosque, named after an important Shiite figure, were killed and more than 200 wounded in the worst recent terror attack in Kuwait.

On the same day, terror attacks were also carried out in France and Tunisia.

ISIL’s Saudi Arabian affiliate, Najd Province, claimed responsibly for the bombing. In a video released online, Al Qaba’a, identified by the nom de guerre Abu Suleiman Al Muwahid, addresses Shiites in Kuwait and says “we are on the lookout for you”. ISIL considers Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaba’a, 23, was quickly identified by officials as a Saudi Arabian citizen. An investigation by newspaper Al Hayat has shed light on how the young man became radicalised.

He was originally from Buraidah, the capital of Saudi Arabia’s Al Qassim region, about 300 kilometres north-west of Riyadh.

The area is well known for being one of the most fundamentalist in the country. In November, two members of Saudi Arabia's security forces were killed while trying to detain suspects in Buraidah following attacks on Shiites in the country's Eastern Province.

Mosques in the Eastern Province were also attacked by ISIL suicide bombers on May 22 and May 29.

Though his immediate family were considered moderates, Al Qaba’a had a number of relatives in prison on charges of incitement and terrorism.

Several uncles introduced him to extremist ideology, apparently before they were jailed, according to Al Hayat.

Al Qaba’a was also something of a loner, a personality trait shared with others who have been recruited by extremist groups. He kept to himself, especially after the family moved to Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh. While growing up, he even refused to meet some of his relatives because they did not follow a strict enough interpretation of Islam. For instance, he did not like that some of them shaved their beards.

One relative told Al Hayat that he had tried to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremist groups, but had been unsuccessful. It was unclear what had stopped him from reaching his destination.

His family wanted to help him. They tried to keep him close and help him find work in either the public or private sector, but he was not interested. Instead, he stayed in his room and did not interact often with the outside world.

It is not known when Al Qaba’a’s contact with ISIL began, nor his exact motivations for becoming a suicide bomber. Before carrying out the attack, he was apparently not being watched by security forces.

This allowed him to set off from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport last Thursday without attracting notice. He first flew to Bahrain, where he sat in the transfer area of Manama International Airport for about two-and-a-half hours. He then entered Kuwait early on Friday morning. The attack took place during afternoon prayers.

Al Qaba’a’s driver, Abdulrahman Sabah Eidan Saud, was arrested in Al Riqqa, a district of Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate.

The owner of the house where he was hiding, described by authorities as a Kuwaiti citizen who was a backer of extremists, was also arrested.

The car’s owner, Jarrah Nimr Mejbil Ghazi, and his brother were also detained. They, along with the driver, are bidoons, or stateless people.

Attention were focused on bidoons earlier this year when Mohammed Emwazi, also known as "Jihadi John" the ISIL militant who executed Western hostages, was identified as a member of the group. Emwazi left Kuwait for Britain when he was six years old, but returned briefly before joining ISIL.

There are believed to be more than 100,000 bidoons in Kuwait.

Kuwait's deputy prime minister and interior minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah said on Tuesday that there are more militant cells in the country and that security forces "will not wait" to pre-empt them.

“We are at a state of war,” he said. “I do not care much that a 23-year-old man travels from Riyadh to Bahrain and then to Kuwait in less than 12 hours to blow himself up. We are after those managing him and will target them.”