Saudi King Vows Punishment for Those Responsible
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s king on Sunday vowed to punish those responsible for a rare suicide bombing that killed 21 people at a Shiite mosque in the country’s east, calling it a “heinous terrorist attack” that runs against Islamic and human values.
King Salman made the pledge hours after the Interior Ministry confirmed that Friday’s attack in the village of al-Qudeeh in the eastern Qatif region was the work of an Islamic State militant, backing up an earlier claim of responsibility by the group.
Video courtesy of: al Jazeera and The Daily News
“Every participant, planner, supporter, collaborator or sympathizer with this heinous crime will be held accountable, tried and punished,” King Salman said in a message addressed to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is deputy premier and minister of interior. “Our efforts will never stop … fighting the deviant thought, confronting the terrorists and wiping out their hotbeds.”
The Interior Ministry identified the bomber as Saudi citizen Saleh bin Abdulrahman al-Qashaami in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency late Saturday.
Al-Qashaami was wanted for being an active member of an IS-linked terrorist cell, the ministry said. Lab tests showed that the explosive use in the bombing was a military-grade compound known as RDX.
The attack was the deadliest assault by militants in the kingdom since a 2004 Al Qaeda attack on foreign worker compounds.
Unlike that attack over a decade ago, Friday’s strike targeted members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority — a sect that both the Islamic State group and ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia regularly denounce as heretics.
A statement from the ISIS group’s al-Bayan radio station posted to militant websites Saturday said a new branch of the group was behind the attack, which it said was carried out by a Saudi going by the nom de guerre Abu Amer al-Najdi.
The ISIS group’s activities are primarily focused on Iraq and Syria. Its claim of responsibility for Friday’s strike and the official Saudi confirmation bolster concerns it has established a toehold inside the oil-rich kingdom, as it has done in Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
It has warned of more “black days” for Shiites in Saudi Arabia, a member of the U.S.-led coalition targeting the group.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said the group also was responsible for the shooting death of a police officer in Riyadh earlier this month. It said five members of an ISIS cell killed Pvt. Majed Ayedh al-Ghamdi and burned his body. Authorities recovered guns, ammunition, explosives and other items from a farm linked to the militants, it said.