KUWAIT CITY (AP) – Five of the six Kuwaitis arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb an American military camp in Kuwait are cousins who were involved in a 2002 attack on U.S. Marines in this oil-rich state, their lawyer said Thursday.
Kuwait announced this week it had foiled a plot by a “terrorist group” linked to Osama bin Laden to attack Camp Arifjan, a vast U.S. logistics base here that is key to Washington’s operations in neighboring Iraq.
The group also planned to target State Security headquarters and other important facilities in this major U.S. ally, authorities said.
Local newspapers claimed the attack on Camp Arifjan, located about 38 miles (60 kilometers) from the capital, Kuwait City, was to take place during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts later in August. The papers quoted unnamed security officials as saying the suspects planned to load a truck with explosives and ram it into the high-security compound.
The U.S. military in Kuwait declined to comment on the foiled plot but Washington welcomed the operation by Kuwaitis to avert a terror attack.
Attorney Adel al-Abdul Hadi said prosecutors were now interrogating his clients on the details of the alleged plot. He said he was told he’d be able to attend the interrogations but hasn’t been granted access to the sessions yet.
Al-Abdul Hadi said they could be charged with conspiracy to kill, training with weapons for an illegal purpose, and planning hostile acts against a friendly country. He also said that five of the suspects are cousins who were convicted for involvement in the 2002 attack on a group of U.S. Marines training on the Kuwaiti island of Failaka. The attack killed one Marine and wounded another.
The Marines shot dead the two attackers on the scene. The five were part of a larger group of Kuwaitis later charged with being connected to the attack. Some were sentenced to prison terms, but a higher appeals court later commuted their sentences to fines.
The 2002 attack on the island was the first against members of the American military, which Kuwait still depends on for protection following the 1991 Gulf War when U.S. liberated the tiny nation from a seven-month Iraqi occupation under Saddam Hussein.
Muslim militants disapprove the U.S. military presence in Kuwait. In 2003, an American contracted to the military was killed and his colleague severely wounded in a militant ambush on their car, near another U.S. army camp. There have also been other incidents with homegrown militants in Kuwait.
In 2005, authorities arrested a group that called itself Lions of the Peninsula after unprecedented street clashes. The group’s members were later tried for planning attacks on U.S. troops and Kuwaiti security personnel. Six of them are now serving life sentences after being convicted.