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Al-Ashtar Brigades

highlights:

Established In: 2013

Established By: Unknown

Also Known As: Saraya al-Ashtar

Country Of Origin: Bahrain

Leaders: Unknown

Key Members: Unknown

Operational Area: Bahrain

Number Of Members: Unknown

Involved In: Suicide bomb attacks, Armed attacks

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General Info:

Al-Ashtar Brigades or Saraya al-Ashtar (SaA) is a Shia militant group opposed to Bahrain’s ruling monarchy. The terrorist group released its first statement on their Facebook page on 27 April 2013 in which it stated that “Enough is enough” and referred to Bahrain’s monarchy as “the rabid dogs of al-Khalifa.” On 4 March 2014, the Bahrain government listed Al-Ashtar Brigades as a terrorist group. The group is an active group formed in 2013, and the name “Al-Ashtar” links the group to Malik al-Ashtar, a figure revered by Shiites from early Islam. They told Al Arabiya English they strongly welcomed the designation and viewed it as an acknowledgment of Iranian involvement with terror groups in Bahrain.



Ideology:
In the 2013 elements of the predominantly Shiite opposition movement in Bahrain have adopted increasingly radical tactics since the onset of protests in 2011. As anti-regime sentiment persists among Shiite opposition activists, factions of the opposition (including Al-Ashtar Brigades) have become more extreme. The Al-Ashtar Brigades shares the February 14 Movement’s goal of bringing down the regime of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Additionally, both groups follow the popular Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim – whose followers also include more mainstream and nonviolent opposition groups such as Al-Wefaq. There are, however, some distinctive differences between the groups.



Campaign of violence:
Al-Ashtar Brigades released a statement in which the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of Bahraini police officers. The group have claimed responsibility for more than 20 attacks in Bahrain, mainly against police officers and security forces. They are perhaps responsible for what many have called the “single worst incident of terrorism on Bahraini soil,” according to local activist group Citizens for Bahrain. The incident refers to the March 2014 attack that claimed the lives of Bahraini police officers Ammar Abdu-Ali al-Dhalei and Mohammed Arslan Ramadhan and Emirati officer First Lieutenant Tariq al-Shehhi.

The three Bahrainis perpetrators with links to al-Ashtar Brigades were executed for their actions. In the recent past members of al-Ashtar Brigades have been found to have been trained and armed by Iran and some of their most senior members have taken refuge in Iran hence this can be considered a wholly Iranian proxy organization with aims that are hostile to Bahrain‘s security security and sovereignty.

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