Iran Accused of Assisting Terrorism

Arab interior ministers accuse Iran of supplying "logistic help to terrorist operations" in Bahrain and Yemen.

Elad Benari,

The 30th conference of the Arab Interior Mini
The 30th conference of the Arab Interior Mini
AFP photo

Arab interior ministers gathered for a security meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday and accused Iran of supplying "logistic help to terrorist operations" in Bahrain and Yemen, AFP reported.

In a statement, the ministers "strongly denounced logistic aid supplied by Iran to terrorist operations in Bahrain and Yemen," and congratulated security services in both countries for "dismantling cells and uncovering dangerous terror plots."

In February, Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Bahrain accused the Islamic Republic across the Gulf of training, arming and financing a "terrorist cell" which the authorities had busted, an accusation Tehran denied.

Sanaa in January said a ship transporting 40 tons of weapons from Iran and destined for Shiite rebels in the north of Yemen had been intercepted in the Gulf of Oman. Tehran also denied that charge.

Wednesday's statement urged Arab states to "boost cooperation in pursuing terrorists" and to hand them over to the countries in which they were wanted men.

The ministers said it was necessary, "in order to eradicate terrorism, to dry up the finances" of organizations linked to the extremists.

Earlier, the ministers were advised to confront the spread of extremism through social media networks by using their own cyber knowhow.

Mohammed Kuman, head of the council of Arab interior ministers, told the meeting, according to AFP, that "extremist thought... on social networks has resulted in a major increase in terrorist acts, political assassinations and sectarian conflicts."

"As it has become impossible to control the content of social networks, it is important to produce counter-speech," said Kuman.

"Ideas can only be fought by ideas," the Saudi official said in an opening speech at the two-day Riyadh meeting.

Al-Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements claiming responsibility for terror attacks, and to communicate with followers.

Its deadliest branch, the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), began posting advertisements on the Internet last year offering training for suicide bombers to target the United States, Israel and France.

Kuman said such extremism could also be tackled through programs to rehabilitate Al-Qaeda terrorists who have either turned themselves in or were arrested, like one set up by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Between 2003 and 2006, Saudi Arabia was targeted by a wave of attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda, prompting a crackdown by security forces in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

In November, Bahraini police arrested four suspects in connection with bombings that killed two Asian expatriates in the capital Manama. Bahrain fingered the Iran-backed Hizbullah terror group as being behind the attacks.

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