Four Bahrainis who have joined the militant group ISIS have called on other Bahrainis to take up arms and join the fight against their ruling “tyrants”, the Sunni Khalifa royal family and the country's majority Shia population, in a YouTube video that surfaced on social media and recently went viral.
Al Qaeda spin-off ISIS has come to control one-third of Syria and a quarter of Iraq, unleashing havoc and horror in its path. It has attracted thousands of youth from around the world, who have been indoctrinated in its extreme ideology, which even the notorious Al Qaeda has found “brutal.”
One of those who appeared in the video threatening the Bahraini regime is Lieutenant Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, whose defection from the Bahrain Defence Forces was reported on Global Voices earlier this year. Alongside, three other Bahrainis, who go by the aliases Abu-Laden Al-Bahraini, Abu-Alfida Al-Salami and Qaswara Albahraini, appear.
Mohamed (abu-Isa) graduated from the Police Academy in 2013 and was supposed to be a prison guard in Bahrain's infamous prisons, which have practiced systematic torture since 2011. Bahrain's Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying that he was sacked from his job because of his absence earlier this month. According to Arabic-language news reports, he had been in the ranks of ISIS for over four months.
Mohamed comes from a famous family in Bahrain, the Binali clan, which is closely affiliated to the Al Khalifa ruling regime. His cousin, Turki Al-Binali, who goes by the alias Abu-Sufyan Al-Salami (Al-Salami refers to the tribe of Sulaim in Arabia), is a high ranking preacher in ISIS. Prior to holding this public position in the terror organisation, he was arrested and released many times before in Bahrain.
In the video that follows, you can see him leading a protest in front of the American Embassy in Bahrain; that protest was not attacked by the authorities like the opposition protests usually are. His books can also still be found in libraries and bookshops around Bahrain in a country which bans hundreds of websites which oppose the government.
The BinAli affiliation with ISIS is longstanding. In May, Turki published information of yet another of his cousins dying while fighting within ISIS.
تأكيد خبر مقتل بحريني في صفوف داعش من عائلة البنعلي (البسيتين) واسمه علي يوسف #المحرق #البحرين #العراق #Bahrain pic.twitter.com/sCBcEFeOqx
— Bahrain Voice (@bhvoice) May 19, 2014
Confirmed news of the death of a Bahraini fighter with ISIS from Al-Binali family in Busaiteen. His name is Ali Yousif
The viral video focused on four major points:
- Calling on the armed forces to defect
- Calling for more Sunnis to join the jihad in Iraq and Syria
- Calling on Sunnis to refuse working with Shia in public or private sector in Bahrain
- Calling to boycott the upcoming elections
Many feel that the Bahrain government has turned a blind eye on the rise of ISIS sympathizers in the country. Prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab doesn't mince his words. His message is clear:
many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) September 28, 2014
Bahrain consists of a Shia majority who have been complaining of marginalization for decades under the ruling Sunni royal family. In a response to a popular uprising in February 2011, “the Bahraini regime responded not only with violent force, but also by encouraging a nasty sectarianism in order to divide the popular movement and to build domestic and regional support for a crackdown,” wrote Mark Lynch at Foreign Policy.
While Bahrain has joined the coalition in its airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the environment of discrimination at home couldn't be any worse. As Mr Rajab explains:
Terrorism laws in #Bahrain & #Gulf were not used against #terrorists or #ISIS but against #human_rights defenders & prisoners of conscience
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) September 27, 2014
Now that this video is out, with its clear and loud message which has receptive ears in some circles in Bahrain, let's wait and see how the Bahrain regime deals with this new escalation of real terrorism from people within its ranks.
The ISIS threat against Bahrain coincides with similar messages to neighbouring countries, which too have turned a blind eye to the group, allowing it to fester and grow in ranks on their own soil. Mauritanian blogger Nasser Weddady tweeted:
Top #ISIS acct “Green light has given to move the battle to capitals of Saudi, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain” #serious pic.twitter.com/oZu0ZfYCS6
— weddady (@weddady) September 24, 2014