Backing Kuwait's Stand against Terrorism
By Michael Knights
February 11, 2005
Five firefights between Kuwaiti government forces and terrorist cells since January 10, 2005, have brought the hitherto low-profile issue of Kuwait's role in the war on terror to the fore. The incidents highlight the increased terrorist threat in a country that, in addition to attracting the normal commercial contingent of Western expatriates, plays the vital role of hosting an estimated 37,500 servicemen and military contractors supporting operations in Iraq.
Since the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Kuwait has had no shortage of militants willing to undertake violent acts in the name of Islam. After playing a part in armed resistance to Iraqi occupation, scores of young Kuwaiti militants joined the jihads in the Balkans, Caucasus, post-September 11 Afghanistan, and now Iraq. Kuwaiti militants draw on a range of motivations. The surviving 120 or so veterans of the original Soviet-era jihad in Afghanistan are under tight surveillance, but some of their sons and grandsons have sought out their own jihad experiences. Being too young to recall Palestinian support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, younger Kuwaitis have responded to continuous coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Arab satellite television with increasing anger against the United States and the West. The growing tension between traditionalist tribal society and urban modernity is a further source of radicalization.