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Two held for Abdali cell link – Communicated with Hezbollah

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 7: Two new suspects in the “Abdali cell” case were arrested Sunday on serious charges of “communicating” with the Lebanese Hezbollah party with the intention of carrying out antagonistic acts in Kuwait, reports Al-Qabas daily quoting informed sources.

They revealed that one of the suspects, identified as A.J., was wanted by law for serving a jail term in the 1980s for his involvement in the bombings that took place in the country at that time.

In the early 1990s, he was pardoned by the Amir following the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. The sources explained that the Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued orders for the arrest of six citizens who are reportedly involved in providing shelter to the members of Abdali cell.

Efforts exerted by the security authorities led to the arrest of two new suspects. They are among the eight suspects who have been detained for 21 days in the Central Prison for investigations. As of yesterday, a total of 13 individuals have been arrested on charges of affiliation to the Lebanese Hezbollah party and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and providing shelter to fugitives.

The State Security Department will intensify efforts to arrest other suspects within the following 24 hours. The two new suspects are being held on State Security charges of communicating with the aim of carrying out hostile acts in Kuwait. Their arrests came as part of a massive operation launched by the concerned authorities to find and arrest the fugitives of “Abdali cell” who were sentenced to prison terms in June. The sources said, “Greater efforts will be exerted within the next hours to locate and arrest more suspects”.

On Aug 13, 2015, Ministry of Interior had declared that it busted a terrorist cell and seized a large cache of 24 hand grenades, 65 guns, 56 RPGs and 144 kilograms of materials used for making bombs that were hidden underground in a farm in Abdali area. On Sept 1, 2015, the Public Prosecution declared that 26 defendants, including an Iranian, would stand trial for the possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and espionage on behalf of Iran and Hezbollah. From them, 24 defendants faced charges of intelligence with Iran and Hezbollah and of engaging in acts that could impact the unity and safety of Kuwait.

On Sept 3, 2015, the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait had issued a statement to downplay the significance of the terrorist cell and the charges of espionage, indicating that the matter is an internal affair of Kuwait related mainly to the discovery of weapons and ammunitions. The Cabinet had condemned the act represented by the illegal possession of huge quantities of explosives, arms and ammunition weapons and explosives by 26 individuals, and their link with Iran and Hezbollah against the interest of Kuwait with the involvement of risks that pose threat to the security, stability and sovereignty of the country as well as the unity of the nation.

It affirmed that it will not tolerate any acts that could harm Kuwaiti citizens and expatriates as well as the homeland, and will take necessary measures to curbing such acts. On Sept 15, 2015, the trial on the so-called “Abdali cell case” began. On Jan 12, 2016, the Criminal Court had issued death sentences against the Iranian defendant and a Kuwaiti defendant, life sentence for another defendant and prison terms ranging from five to 15 years for the rest. On July 2016, after the verdicts of the Criminal Court were appealed, the Court of Appeals had acquitted 15 suspects from the charges of espionage for Iran and Hezbollah. In June 2017, the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence issued against one defendant and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

It also cancelled the acquittal of 15 defendants and sentenced two of them to 15-years imprisonment, 15 of them to ten-year imprisonment and the rest to five-year imprisonment. Following the final court verdict issued in June, the convicted members had disappeared. Reports had emerged in the local media that they had fled the country but these were denied by Ministry of Interior. The ministry said there are no evidences to prove that the convicts had left the country and appealed for assistance from Kuwaiti citizens and residents in locating them, warning that legal measures will be taken against anyone who withholds information concerning the whereabouts of the convicts. These legal measures to be taken against those who conceal any information on the convicts or help them escape include two-year incarceration and/or a fine of up to KD 2,000. Ministry of Interior had published pictures of the 16 convicts in a bid to help people in identifying them.

On July 20, 2017, Kuwait sent a protest letter to the Iranian diplomatic mission in Kuwait, asking it to reduce the number of diplomats from 19 to four. The diplomats, declared personae non gratae, were given 45 days to leave Kuwait. It was also asked to close down the cultural mission and the military bureau, declaring that all joint commissions between the two countries were suspended.

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