ISIL fighters allegedly capturing Iraqi government forces
Alert over jihadists recruiting Bahraini youngsters
Manama, June 18, 2014
A warning has been sounded over a radical group allegedly trying to recruit young Bahrainis to join an insurgency in Iraq and Syria.
It comes as Sunni extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cut a bloody swathe across Iraq - seizing cities and executing captured government soldiers, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Bahraini MP Abdulhaleem Al Murad claimed a new gym in Muharraq was being used by its supporters as a recruitment centre for jihadists.
"There is a well-known group in Busaiteen that is responsible for recruiting young Bahrainis to fight in Syria and now even Iraq because of the instability," claimed Al Murad, who is president of the Al Asala parliamentary bloc.
He claimed members of the Busaiteen group had already started visiting boys intermediate schools to further their agenda and convince students to become fighters in regional conflicts.
"They go and meet the boys in school and use religion as a tool to manipulate their thoughts," said Al Murad.
"If not the school, these group members and their leader visit houses and are welcomed by families."
However, he expressed particular concern over the gym that he claimed was recruiting young Bahrainis to become fighters.
"This gym attracts a lot of young boys and, based on my information, it is being used by this group for their recruitment," he said.
The MP, who represents a Sunni Islamist movement, is now calling on police to act.
"There is going to be a surge in the number of people planning to fight in Iraq and the Interior Ministry should deal with these groups according to the law," he said.
At least four Bahrainis are known to have died since 2011 after signing up to fight in Syria against President Bashar Al Assad's forces.
The Interior Ministry in March offered amnesty to Bahrainis fighting in conflict zones if they returned to Bahrain within two weeks.
However, Al Murad said as far as he was aware none had taken up the offer.
"No one has returned and we urged all clerics in Bahrain to play a bigger role in educating young men in Bahrain," he said.
Meanwhile, Muharraq-based Sunni Islamic scholar Shaikh Salah Al Jowder confirmed he was also aware of a movement in Busaiteen, which was allegedly sending Bahrainis to foreign conflict zones.
He revealed the group arranged plane tickets and other transportation for young Bahrainis travelling to Damascus and Baghdad.
"Many parents are still waiting to hear from their sons, while there are others who have just disappeared and no-one knows about them," said Shaikh Al Jowder.
"I know that young men under the age of 17 are being targeted by these groups in the name of Islam to participate in holy wars."
Bahrain recalled its diplomats from Baghdad on Monday as the bloodshed continued in Iraq.
However, embassy officials say that around 30 students in Najaf have decided to stay.
Sunni militants have sliced through northern and central Iraq since seizing Mosul last week, capturing the key towns of Hawija and Tikrit in the north before facing resistance in southern Salahuddin province.
Government forces yesterday said they repelled an attempt by insurgents to seize Baquba, capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad, in heavy fighting overnight.
Bahrainis in Iraq are advised to contact the Bahrain Embassy in Baghdad on +9647801970008 or through its Twitter account @BahrainEmbIQ.
They can also contact the Bahrain consulate in Najaf on +9647601700011, +9647815222413 or via its Twitter account @BahrainConIQ.
Two hotlines have also been set up in Bahrain to provide round-the-clock support to those who need it. They can be reached on 17212006 and 17227555. - TradeArabia News Service