Kuwait killed five al-Qaeda operatives and captured three more, including the cell leader, as AQ has shifted its focus from Saudi Arabia to the American ally in the Persian Gulf. The AQ cell had targeted American homes in the kingdom for destruction:
Kuwait passed emergency anti-terrorism laws yesterday that granted police wider search powers after foiling a plot to bomb an American residential complex and breaking up an al-Qa’eda cell. …
Security forces said the group were part of a 24-member cell that had been virtually eliminated in four gun battles in the last month. Eight terrorists had been killed and 14 captured. Two were still on the run.
Police discovered plans to bomb the Alia-Ghalia apartment complex, also known as Fintas Towers, twin high-rise buildings overlooking the sea south of the capital.
Apparently, AQ has found the going a bit too tough in Saudi Arabia these days. Either the Saudi security forces’ get-tough policy really works, or the Saudis might have bought them off, although that seems very unlikely to me. (If they did, AQ leadership certainly blew their investment in this cell.) That alone qualifies as a victory, driving AQ from the holy land that they originally formed to protect from American infidels.
Choosing Kuwait as its next target shouldn’t surprise anyone. Kuwait has stood outside of mainstream Arab opinion by allying with their American and British liberators, a position that guaranteed a feud with Islamists. However, AQ does not appear to have been terribly successful in establishing its cell, at least in this case, which points to a lack of effective leadership.
If Kuwait successfully defends itself from AQ infiltration, the next targets might be Qatar, which hosted the command center for the Iraq invasion, or possibly Bahrain. The aim for al-Qaeda now appears to frighten the Gulf states from engaging with the United States, a much smaller scale of targets for the group that targeted the US itself in such a spectacular and brutal manner. If the choice of victims says anything about the bully, it seems like AQ has degraded dramatically in the past three years.