Bahrain king 'recruited al-Qaeda to assassinate opposition activists'
Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language news channel broadcast a documentary on Sunday evening containing what it said were secret recordings of calls between Bahraini intelligence and members of the Islamist extremist group Al-Qaeda.
Bahraini intelligence officers and Al-Qaeda commanders coordinated attacks on the Bahraini opposition, according to the Al-Jazeera documentary, which was entitled Those who Play with Fire.
Three Bahraini intelligence officers recruited Al-Qaeda commanders to form a secret cell to assassinate Bahraini opposition activists, according to the documentary, on orders from the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
The list of opposition activists to be assassinated included Abdulwahab Hussain, a prominent leader of the Al-Wefaq movement who played an important role in the 2011 Bahraini uprising against the monarchy.
The documentary claimed King Hamad personally intervened to have one of the Al-Qaeda commanders, Mohammed Saleh, released when he was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
The documentary also quoted a retired CIA officer, John Kiriakou, as saying that intelligence obtained from notes made by Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was previously accused by the US of being an Al-Qaeda leader and extensively tortured by the CIA, had mentioned three members of the Saudi royal family.
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When the CIA contacted the three Saudi royals, they disappeared and their bodies were later found in the desert.
The documentary added that Bahraini intelligence officers also travelled to Iran to coordinate with JundAllah, a militant group based in Iran’s southeastern province of Baluchistan which claims to fight for equal rights for Iranian Sunnis but is accused of having links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The Bahraini government furiously rejected the allegations in the documentary on Monday.
Bahraini Foreign Minster Khaled bin Ahmed said that the programme was filled with “lies and fallacies against the state of Bahrain”, describing Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, as “a rogue state which has become the biggest threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt broke off relations with Qatar in 2017, imposing a blockade.
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