Counter-Terrorism: Trouble in Paradise

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February23, 2007: Police stumbled upon a terrorist training camp in Bahrain. A small (665 square kilometer) island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, Bahrains population is only 700,000. But oil and gas provide a per-capita income of over $20,000. While generally peaceful, the country has many unhappy, and violence prone, citizens. The problems are many. First, there is the monarchy. Although competent, many of the educated citizens would prefer a democracy. Then there's the religion angle. The monarchy is Sunni, while two thirds of the popular are Shia. Moreover, about 20 percent of the population are Christian and Hindu. This offends about ten percent of the population who are Islamic conservatives. Thus when the police caught a teenager with a gasoline bomb, and questioning led to an improvised terrorist training camp outside a village, it was no surprise. Apparently two dozen young men had decided to form their own terror organization, and were training to attack police and government offices.

Although Bahrain took over as an Arab playground and financial center, when Beirut, Lebanon ceased to play that role in the late 1970s (because of a civil war), ancient animosities and grudges still provide plenty of terrorism potential. The police usually catch these things earlier, and talk the young men out of their dreams of death and destruction. But with all the potential out there, some plots are going to get a little larger before they are caught.

 


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