Overview: Bahrain enhanced its internal capacity and active support of regional and international counterterrorism issues against the backdrop of a turbulent year: mass protests began in February calling for political reform and expanded civil rights for members of the Shia majority. Bahrain was six years into a transformation program that has taken the kingdom's security services from a colonial force focused on population control to a modern Western-style organization capable of both preventing and responding to terrorist attacks. The government worked to enhance border control capability, contribute manpower to international counterterrorism operations, participate in international technical training, and realign internal responsibilities. Bahraini-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation was strong, especially on the investigations of several suspected domestic terrorist incidents, and Bahrain continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: On November 12, the Ministry of Interior announced that five Bahraini men were arrested and accused of forming a terrorist cell that sought to target the King Fahd (Bahrain-Saudi) Causeway, the Ministry of Interior headquarters, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Manama, and prominent individuals. Four of the suspects were arrested in Qatar and handed over to Bahraini authorities on November 4; a fifth suspect was later arrested. The Bahraini Public Prosecutor said that investigators found evidence that the five men had been trained and financed by Iranian groups and led by two London-based Bahraini extremists. On November 23, a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) was found on the side of a road outside the royal Safriya Palace. Preliminary Ministry of Interior lab results were inconclusive, and U.S. analysis of the device was still ongoing at year's end. No claims of responsibility were made. On December 4, an IED was detonated under a vehicle in the vicinity of the British Embassy in Manama. There were no injuries or casualties, and no claims of responsibility were made. Bahraini, U.S., and UK authorities were investigating the incident at year's end.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: In November, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry released a report that found that a number of government institutions, including the Bahrain National Security Agency (BNSA), had committed human rights abuses during political and civil unrest in early 2011. King Hamad amended the BNSA charter to revoke the agency's arrest and detention authorities. As a result, BNSA was no longer positioned to take aggressive action against individuals known or suspected of involvement in terrorism. BNSA, as of the end of the year, was in the process of establishing an agreement with Bahrain's Ministry of Interior to conduct arrest and detention operations of designated targets.

On February 21, King Hamad suspended the trial of 25 Bahraini citizens who had been charged under the counterterrorism law; on February 22, he ordered their release. Their arrests and prosecutions had been criticized by local and international human rights organizations as political in nature.

On November 13, the public prosecutor announced that five Bahraini citizens were being charged with the formation of a terrorist group for the purpose of nullification of the provisions of the constitution and law, in addition to other charges. However, the prosecutor did not make it clear whether they would be specifically charged under the counterterrorism law. The investigation was ongoing at year's end.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Bahrain is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2011, there were no public prosecutions of terrorist finance cases. Ministry of Interior officials from the Financial Intelligence Unit attended a U.S.-sponsored conference in Riyadh in August and the "Gulf-European Symposium on Combating Terrorist Financing" in Poland in November. There were no specific timetables or plans adopted by Bahrain related to counterterrorist finance.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional And International Cooperation: Bahrain worked closely and cooperatively with international partners throughout the region. Since formally endorsing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in March 2008, Bahrain has proactively worked to expand air, sea, and causeway border control points.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Government of Bahrain's efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism were spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs (MJIA). The MJIA organized regular workshops and seminars for imams from both the Sunni and Shia sects, and expanded its international scholarship program to include religious schools in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. It also undertook an annual review of schools' Islamic Studies curricula to evaluate interpretations of religious texts.


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