Bahraini militias threaten attacks over state executions

As Bahrain is set to imminently execute two individuals accused of terrorism, Iranian-backed militant groups on the island have threatened retaliatory actions against the state.

Ali Mohamed al Arab and Ahmed Isa al Malali are expected to be executed by the Bahraini government for allegedly joining a militia group and committing terrorist attacks.

Speaking to this news, Sayara al Ashtar, Iran’s main proxy group on the island, states that “we in the Islamic Resistance warn the Khalifa gangs of progressing in the crime.” It then says it would like to emphasize several points to the Bahraini government, calling to arms its members and supporters:

“That progressing in this terrible crime will cost the Khalifas and their supporters greatly in the coming days; every drop of blood you spill enhances this choice and strengthens the resistance; we call all resistance fighters to preparedness and readiness; and that the blood you spill today cannot be stopped but by the choice of the resistance.”

Another group, Saraya Waad Allah – which is accused of being a front for Ashtar – released a menacing video carrying a similar message as Saraya al Ashtar’s statement.

The brief video features only photos and general locations of several figures within the Bahraini security apparatus and an ending quote with “blood for blood.” While not explicitly stated in the video, the implication that these individuals will be targeted is clear.

It should be noted that al Ashtar threatened increased attacks in Bahrain earlier this year. However, this threat has yet to fully materialize. Only one attack has been claimed since Ashtar’s message – an unconfirmed bombing on Feb. 10 claimed by a group called Saraya Thair Allah (God’s Revenge Companies).

While it is unclear how much weight these new threats hold, the security concern is obviously present.

The trials and subsequent sentencing of Al Arab and Al Malali have been accused by multiple international organizations of being unfair. Other organizations have also called out the methods in which the two reportedly confessed to these crimes.

The Bahraini government, in an effort to curb violence and protests on the island, has often carried out heavy-handed sentencing and collective punishment against the majority Shia population.

These tactics have played into the narratives of Iran and its allies, thereby exacerbating the situation.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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