Bahrain’s security forces have prevented a terrorist attack on three oil pipelines as well as attacks on public figures, the Chief of the country’s Public Security, Major General Tariq al-Hassan told media today.
According to Al-Hassan, the plotters behind the plan were acting on directives from a terrorist based in Iran, who had ties to Iran’s elite security force, the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The security chief noted that the plot was uncovered prior to the explosion at the Saudi-Bahraini pipeline that occurred over the weekend.
The official went on to add that Bahrain’s security forces had confiscated cargoes of arms and ready-to-use explosives. He also said that while targeting public figures in the tiny kingdom was nothing new, the focus on oil infrastructure indicated a change of tactics.
The “terrorist cell” that Al-Hassan said was behind the plot to blow up pipelines was led by Qassim al-Muamen, a fugitive in Iran who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Bahraini government and whose Bahraini nationality was revoked. Besides him, the cell also involved four other people, one of them wanted on terrorism charges and another sentenced to 30 years for terrorism in absentia.
The latest events in Bahrain, a stout ally of Saudi Arabia, are yet another spike in Middle Eastern tensions, after Riyadh accused Iran of attacking it via the Houthi rebels in Yemen and then of meddling in Lebanon.
Last week, an explosion on a pipeline carrying Saudi crude to Bahrain occurred some 15 km from the capital Manama, causing damage to surrounding cars and buildings. Bahrain’ s Interior Minister was quick to lay the blame on Iran, and Iran was equally quick in denying any involvement.
Bahrain is a close ally to Saudi Arabia and the West, but its name is not free of controversy. The tiny kingdom is populated by a majority of Shi’ite Muslims, but its government is Sunni. Since 2011 there has been unrest among the majority with demands for reforms and more rights for the Shi’ites, which has been crushed by the government.