Kuwait mosque bomber slipped security watch in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
The Saudi man who blew himself up in a Shiite mosque in Kuwait managed to slip out of his home country without raising any red flags and board a commercial flight transiting nearby Bahrain less than 24 hours before the deadly attack.
The details of the bomber's final hours, released by regional authorities, highlight the growing involvement of undetected Islamic State sympathizers on the Arabian peninsula and the threat they pose to countries closer to home than the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.
The blast Friday in one of Kuwait City's most prominent Shiite mosques killed 27 worshippers and wounded more than 200. It followed two suicide bombings in neighboring Saudi Arabia weeks earlier, raising fears of more attacks to come in the Persian Gulf.
Kuwaiti officials have identified the bomber as Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Gabbaa, a Saudi man in his early 20s who landed in the country just hours before the attack.
The bombing — which struck on the same day as deadly attacks in Tunisia and France — has rattled Kuwait. Violence is rare in the small and stable OPEC nation, which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy and has a sizable Shiite minority. Kuwait regularly hosts American soldiers and other Western troops.
It is unclear how much help al-Gabbaa had inside Kuwait and when and how he obtained his explosives. Kuwaiti police have arrested at least two people in connection with the attack.
One is a man who authorities allege drove al-Gabbaa to the mosque. Another, according to the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry, is a known follower of “fundamentalist and deviant ideology” who housed the driver.
Residents can travel easily in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council bloc, making it simple for al-Gabbaa to exploit the region's extensive transportation links.