Bahrain Cabinet Officials Call for Tougher Anti-Terror Laws

Bahrain’s Cabinet last week called for tougher laws and penalties for those convicted of terrorist activities. In the last year or so, quite a few terrorist cells have been smashed and large – sometimes extraordinarily large – quantities of explosives and bomb-making material have been seized.

There have also been blasts where a number of policemen were killed. The most recent incident happened in the last week of August when there was a blast in Karannah, a predominatly Shiite village, in which one police officer was killed and four officers and a couple and their child were injured.

Iran Supporting Instability

While one sees regular reports of people being arrested, tried and convicted, the current level of penalties do not appear to deter the hardcore among the trouble-makers. From the numerous instances where guns and explosives have been seized by the security authorities offshore and on the Saudi Causeway in the last few months, it would appear that the smugglers, controlled from Iran, are determined to destabilize the Kingdom.

Barely two weeks ago, 1.5 tonnes of high-grade explosives were seized from a secret warehouse in Nuwaidrat, another Shiite village. The cache included C4-RDX, TNT and other chemical explosives.

It would appear from the look of things that the current laws are hardly of a degree of toughness to instil fear among the criminals. And yet, some Western countries, without going deeply into the malaise of terrorism eating into the vitals of this tiny nation, continue to criticize it, sometimes equating legitimate police action with state terrorism while refusing to take cognisance of the criminal and terrorist activities of those on the other side of the fence.

Thankfully, Britain recently came out with a refreshingly positive stand when its Ambassador in Bahrain, Simon Martin, said last week that “Bahrain deals with terror threats that jeopardize its security and stability just like other countries of the world do. Countries have the right to defend the aspirations of their citizens to live in a secure and stable atmosphere by eradicating terrorism, considered the most serious infringement on human rights.”

Many policemen have sacrificed their lives in defending the nation and one wonders why the rights of the policemen crushed repeatedly under 4WDs by trouble-makers have never been taken into account by the world community which otherwise stands up to defend through the Press as well on the social media those merely arrested.

The Case For Tough Laws

Mr Anwar Abdulrahman, a highly respected journalist of Bahrain, in a very cogent and well-argued piece in his newspaper ‘Gulf Daily News’ recently made a good point about the need to toughen the anti-terror laws by citing the example of Britain where tough laws to tackle terrorism are already in place.

He cited the example of six IRA terrorists who were jailed for 35 years each back in 1997 for plotting to black out London on a gigantic scale. Their plan was to bomb power stations and paralyse the power supply to London and to parts of England. Even though the plot was foiled, the British court still went ahead and gave them punitive punishment not only to make an example of them but also taking into account the potential consequences of their action had they succeeded.

In Bahrain, one now needs to treat even the foiled plots and aborted attempts at gun-running as crimes deserving of the same verdicts awarded for those which might have succeeded. The time for misplaced compassion is over and manipulative politics and emotional blackmail must be nailed.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.