Kuwait on Sunday identified the suicide bomber behind its worst militant attack as a young Saudi Arabian man and said it had detained the driver of the vehicle that took him to a Shiite Muslim mosque where he killed 27 people.
The disclosure of the bomber’s Saudi nationality is likely to focus the attention of authorities investigating Friday’s suicide bombing on ties between Islamists in the small Persian Gulf state and those in its larger, more conservative neighbor.
Kuwait’s Interior Ministry named the bomber as Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen al-Qabaa and said he flew into Kuwait’s airport at dawn Friday. This was hours before a man detonated an explosives-laden vest at Kuwait City’s Imam al-Sadeq mosque.
Saudi Arabia said Qabaa was not previously known to security authorities and had flown out of the kingdom to the Bahraini capital, Manama, on Thursday, state news agency SPA quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.
The timing of his arrival suggests he had a network in place in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said it was searching for more partners and aides in this “despicable crime,” adding that Qabaa had been born in 1992.
The Islamic State’s Saudi Arabian arm claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque, where 2,000 worshipers were praying at the time. It was one of three attacks on three continents that day apparently linked to hard-line Islamists.
The attack was the most significant act of Sunni militant violence in Kuwait since 2005, when an al-Qaeda-linked group calling itself the Peninsula Lions clashed with security forces in the streets of Kuwait City. Nine Islamists and four security force members were killed in the gun battles.
The Islamic State subscribes to a puritanical school of Sunni Islam that considers Shiites to be heretics.
The ministry said the driver of the Japanese-made car, who left the mosque immediately after Friday’s bombing, was an illegal resident named Abdul-Rahman Sabah Aidan.
The ministry, which had earlier reported the vehicle owner’s arrest, said Aidan, 26, was found hiding in one of the houses in the al-Riqqa residential area.
“Initial investigations showed that the owner of the house is a supporter of the deviant ideology,” the ministry said, employing a term often used by authorities in the gulf Arab region to refer to hard-line Islamist militants.
The owner of the house, a Kuwaiti citizen, also was detained, the ministry said.