A suicide bombings attack killed 21 people praying in a Saudi mosque on Friday in one of the deadliest assaults the wealthy Arab Gulf country has ever witnessed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the mosque bombings, making it the first time the terrorist group carried out an attack in Saudi Arabia.
The casualties could have been far more numerous, as there were at least 150 worshipers at the Imam Ali mosque in al-Qadeeh at the time of the attack. The Saudi health minister announced in a TV statement that 90 other people suffered injuries as pieces of concrete and glass were falling down from the ceiling.
“We were doing the first part of the prayers when we heard the blast,” Kamal Jaafar Hassan, one of the witnesses who was inside the building, told reporters. Apparently, there was a single suicide bomber that carried out the attack, identified by the Islamic State as Abu ‘Ammar al-Najdi.
ISIS released a video statement shortly after the attack, describing in detail how he proceeded. According to the terrorist organization, al-Najdi used an explosive belt that was strapped around him and hidden underneath his clothes. The group announced that “black days” await the Shiites in Saudi Arabia, whom they view as heretics.
Shiites represent a minority in the large Arabian kingdom, and they have often been denounced as heretics even by some Saudi officials. However, it seems that this time the Islamic State went too far, as they found no support for their actions among the Saudi Arabian population.
Many Saudi journalists have denounced the attack and urged the kingdom’s government to take decisive measures to punish those responsible for the incident and preventing other atrocities from happening again. Naif Al-Rasheed, writing from the country’s capital Riyadh, believes the bombings aim to make people believe that public places are no longer safe in Saudi Arabia.
Dubai-based Musaed Al-Zayani blames foreign agents for the attack, who he thinks seek to destabilize the Kingdom by flaming tensions between Shiites and Sunnis. “We believe there is a foreign hand involved to create unrest in this peaceful country,” another statement said. Everyone seems to agree that religious fanatics have no place in Saudi Arabia and their presence cannot be tolerated.
Saudi officials believe that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, targeted their country not only because it is an important regional ally for the Western powers fighting the terrorists, but also because he sees the Kingdom as direct challenge to his propaganda. Al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed himself caliph – religious leader of all Muslims – cannot sit idle as Saudi Arabia, the champion of Sunni doctrine and the birthplace of Islam, is challenging his rule.
“Security authorities will spare no effort in the pursuit of all those involved in this terrorist crime,” the state news agency promised. Officials said they expect ISIS to make other attempts to destabilize the country in the near future.
Image Source: CNN