138 'terror' suspects to face trial in Bahrain

138 'terror' suspects to face trial in Bahrain
Bahraini authorities are expected to try more than 100 suspected of establishing a "terror" group, in the latest crackdown on opposition in the Gulf state.
2 min read
27 July, 2016
The suspects are charged with terror-related offences [Getty]

More than 100 Bahrainis will be taken to court by authorities for allegedly forming a "terrorist" group linked to Iran, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The group of 138 includes 86 suspects already held by the Gulf kingdom and 52 others described as being 'on the run' between Iraq and Iran, chief prosecutor Hamad Shaheen said in a statement on the official BNA news agency.

The suspects are charged with either establishing the "Zulfiqar Brigades", joining the group, involvement in bombings, possessing explosives and undergoing weapons and explosives training, he said.

They are also accused of "spying for a foreign country".

The group members conducted "several terrorist attacks in the kingdom after having received training abroad at military camps overseen by (Tehran's) Revolutionary Guard" in Iran and Iraq, it was claimed.

Authorities regularly accuse the Gulf state's majority-Shia opposition of harbouring links with Iran - which it says has fanned unrest among the community since security forces crushed Shia-led protests for a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister in 2011.

Authorities regularly accuse the Gulf state's majority-Shia opposition of harbouring links with Iran

Earlier this month, authorities dissolved the kingdom's main opposition party al-Wefaq, accusing the group of "harbouring terrorism".

The court accused al-Wefaq – which held a majority of seats in parliament before lawmakers resigned in protest at the crushing of the 2011 protests – of "inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations and sit-ins which could lead to sectarian strife in the country."

Bahrain has carried out an intensifying crackdown on leading Shia figures over the years, including arresting leading opposition figures like al-Wefaq's chief, cleric Ali Salman in 2014.

Last month, Bahrain's top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qasim was stripped of his nationality, prompting more street protests in the small Gulf kingdom.

Amnesty International urged Bahraini authorities to halt its "intensified crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and movement", adding it is "deeply concerned" by the decision to suspend al-Wefaq.