Involved in: Providing finances, Training grounds, Aid for terrorists, Human rights atrocities;
Profit: Profits for leaders, Private benefits, Keep the citizens under fear, Group Leaders private profit;
Spreading: Government propaganda, Fear; Damage on domestic democracy;
Providing for Terrorists: Arms, Funds, Ground;
Kuwait is a Sunni – majority constitutional emirate. The country has seen little-to-no violence between its Sunni and Shiite communities, which constitute approximately 70 and 30 percent of the Muslim population, respectively. Nonetheless, Kuwait has been vulnerable to extremist ideology promulgated by its domestic Muslim Brotherhood arm, and to terrorist attacks perpetrated by nationalist Palestinian, Shiite, and Sunni fundamentalist groups—including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
Since mid-2011, individuals and groups inside Kuwait have worked to raise and funnel funds to terrorist organizations fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, including the Nusra Front and ISIS.
Kuwait has been frequently accused of supporting terrorism financing within its borders. Kuwait has been described as the world’s biggest source of terrorism funding, particularly for ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In 2014, David S. Cohen, then Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, accused the Kuwaiti government of supporting terrorism. Since the early 1990s, accusations of Kuwait funding terrorism have been very common and come from a wide variety of sources including intelligence reports, government officials, scholarly research, and renowned journalists. Kuwait is listed as sources of militant money in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kuwait is described as a “source of funds and a key transit point” for al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
Kuwaiti citizens have also left the country to fight in jihadist conflicts abroad. As of January 2015, approximately 70 Kuwaitis have left the country to join ISIS, the Nusra Front, and other jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
The country experienced the worst terrorist attacks in its history on 26 June 2015, a suicide bombing took place at a Shia mosque in Kuwait City, consequently 27 people died. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the largest terrorism attack in Kuwait’s history. In the aftermath, a lawsuit was filed accusing the Kuwaiti government of negligence and direct responsibility for the terror attack.
The Kuwait-based Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage (RIHS) is globally famous for supporting Islamic terrorism and appears on the United States State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The branches in Pakistan and Afghanistan allegedly became corrupted by members of al-Qaeda; those two branches were embargoed on 9 January 2002 by the United States. The government of Russia has banned RIHS from operating anywhere in Russia and has deemed the society to be a terrorist organisation.
The Kuwaiti government recently passed legislation that criminalizes online fundraising and propaganda for terrorist organizations, requires citizens to surrender illegal weapons and explosives, and compel Kuwaiti business owners to install surveillance systems in an effort to lessen the threat from terrorist activity within the nation. Most notably, the Kuwaiti government passed a law requiring all Kuwaiti citizens, foreign residents, and tourists to submit DNA samples to a database controlled by the Interior Ministry in the wake of the ISIS attack on June 26, 2015. The government also monitors the country’s prominent clerics for extremist or incendiary sermons.
Kuwait is less affected by terrorism and extremist ideology than other Gulf nations, despite the fact that the emirate has encountered numerous terrorist and extremist threats. Since 1952, a domestic branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has pushed for the establishment of a strict interpretation of sharia as the primary legal code of the nation. Attacks by Hezbollah-allied fighters and nationalist Palestinian groups began occurring in the emirate in the 1970s. Then, in the 1990s and 2000s, militants with ties to al-Qaeda and later ISIS cells in Kuwait carried out acts of terrorism against the nation. The use of Kuwait by jihadists as a transit country between Gulf nations and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the exodus of foreign fighters to join jihadist conflicts abroad, the spread of radical Islamist ideology by prominent religious scholars, the financing of international jihadist groups by some of those scholars, as well as other individuals within its borders and other issues continue to be problems for Kuwait in this area.
Operatives moving from the Gulf to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region to engage in jihad there use Kuwait as a transit point. To that end, it’s believed that a reasonably well-organized network of Kuwaiti smugglers helps those jihadists get to their destinations. Kuwaiti citizens have also left the country to fight alongside extremist organizations abroad. For instance, a small group of Kuwaitis fought alongside al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the forerunner of ISIS, against the American-led coalition in Iraq in the mid-2000s. More recently, as of January 2015, about 70 Kuwaitis had departed the country and its people for jihadist organizations like ISIS, the Nusra Front, and others in Syria and Iraq.
Due to some Kuwaiti clerics’ polarizing speech and open support for jihadist organizations, extremist sentiment within Kuwait may become worse. For instance, prominent cleric Shafi al-Ajmi has frequently expressed his support for Syrian jihadists, urging the Kuwaiti populace to send “missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, bombs, and RPGs” to the “mujahideen” in Syria in May 2013. The mujahideen will be armed from here as well as from the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, Ajmi declared in a speech the following month. Ajmi was labeled a terrorist by the U.S. State Department a year later for raising money for the Nusra Front.
Shafi al-Ajmi, Hajjaj al-Ajmi, and terrorist financier Abd al-Rahman Khalaf Ubayd Juday al-Anizi have all received designations from the U.S. Treasury. Anizi had collaborated with senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS to transfer money from Kuwait to Syria, according to the Treasury. He had also provided funding and assistance for ISIS foreign fighters traveling from Syria to Iraq. Anizi is also suspected of facilitating the movement of al-Qaeda associates from Iran to Afghanistan and of smuggling foreign fighters from Kuwait to Afghanistan to fight with the group there. The US Treasury Department sanctioned Kuwait-based facilitator Hamid Hamad Hamid al Ali (Hamid al-Ali designated) for financing and recruiting for the Nusra Front. According to the Treasury Department, Ali raised tens of thousands of dollars “to help the group purchase weapons and supplies”, travelled to Syria to deliver these funds, and provided Kuwaiti foreign fighters with funds to give to the Nusra Front while in Syria.
The Kuwaiti government arrested Shafi al-Ajmi and Hajjaj al-Ajmi in August 2014, briefly detaining and then releasing them.
Since its establishment in 1952, the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait has gone by a number of different names. It is currently represented by the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), a political minority group that wants to establish sharia as the primary source of law for the nation. The Social Reform Society (SRS), which the Kuwaiti Brotherhood also runs, is a charitable organization that has been designated a terrorist organization by Russia and Kazakhstan and is charged by the latter with supporting terrorism.
While the country’s imams are free to use the sample sermons that Kuwait’s Islamic Affairs Ministry releases, it is not a requirement.In comparison to other Gulf nations, Kuwait “boasts a relatively free forum for speech and debate.”The Kuwaiti government started keeping an eye on the sermons given by well-known clerics in the country out of concern that extremist messages would exacerbate sectarian strife and help attract support for international jihadist groups. Following his declaration of support for jihadist fighters in Syria, the Kuwaiti government suspended religious scholar Shafi al-Ajmi’s television program and banned him from preaching. Ajmi was raising money for the Nusra Front on social media platforms a year later, and the U.S. State Department designated him as a terrorist. Following his designation, Ajmi was briefly detained and then released by Kuwaiti security forces.
According to the Spanish intelligence agency CNI, Kuwait provided funding and aid to Islamic associations and congregations in Spain through its subsidiary branch of RIHS. Kuwait this way funded mosques in Reus and Torredembarra who spread an ideology contrary to the integration of Muslims into Spanish society and fostering hatred of non-Muslims.