May 2, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Iranian-backed terror group in Bahrain claims to target Israel

Saraya Al-Ashtar confirmed on Thursday, “that it targeted the headquarters of the company responsible for land transportation in the occupation entity...in the city of Umm Al-Rashrash, Eilat..."
May 2, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Iranian-backed terror group in Bahrain claims to target Israel

Saraya Al-Ashtar confirmed on Thursday, “that it targeted the headquarters of the company responsible for land transportation in the occupation entity...in the city of Umm Al-Rashrash, Eilat..."

The “Islamic Resistance in Bahrain, Saraya Al-Ashtar” claimed Thursday that it had attempted to target Israel with a drone attack, according to reports posted on social media and also by pro-Iranian media in the region. The pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen said that the group had “announced the targeting of the depths of the Israeli occupation entity, with drones, in support of the Palestinian cause and in support of the resisting people in Gaza, in the first operation since the beginning of the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ operation.”

Saraya Al-Ashtar confirmed, in a statement published on Thursday, “that it targeted the headquarters of the company responsible for land transportation in the occupation entity, Trucknet, in the city of Umm Al-Rashrash, Eilat, south of occupied Palestine.” It claimed that it had carried out the attack on April 27. In a video online the group appeared to use an Iranian-style drone launched from a metal frame using a propellant. The drone then soars into the distance.

Mohammed Al-Abbasi, the official spokesperson for the National Communication Centre, confirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain classifies the Saraya Al-Ashtar group, which operates outside the kingdom, as a terrorist organization. Several countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, share this designation.

First time group claims to attack Israel

This is the first time this group claimed to attack Israel since the October 7 rampage in Israel. Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon joined the attacks on Israel on October 8 and several days later the Iranian-backed Houthis also said they would form a joint operations room against Israel. Since then Iran has been active against Israel using proxies from up to seven fronts in the region. Iran has prodded Iraqi-based militias to target Israel. Those groups have also targeted Eilat with drone attacks. Iranian-backed groups in Syria and the West Bank have also targeted Israel.

Bahrain, along with the UAE, are partners to the 2020 Abraham Accords. Bahrain has a large Shi’ite minority population which Iran has often sought to radicalize and use against the kingdom and as a conduit to influence Shi’ite groups in Saudi Arabia. “The Islamic Resistance in Bahrain confirmed that it is continuing its movement and support for the Palestinian people in Gaza,  at all levels, stressing that it will not stop its operations unless the aggression in the Gaza Strip stops,” the Al-Mayadeen report said.

According to the US Office of the Department of National Intelligence the “Al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB) is a Bahraini Shia militant group that plans and commits terrorist attacks against the Government of Bahrain with Iran’s assistance. The group emerged in 2013 when it split from the 14 February Youth Coalition, Bahrain’s oldest Iran-aligned Shia militia. AAB seeks to overthrow Bahrain’s monarchy and has claimed at least 20 attacks in Bahrain, some of which caused fatalities.”

The US has sanctioned the group in the past. On March 12 the State Department said that it had sanctioned three members of the terrorist group. “The Department of State designated Saraya al-Ashtar as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated International Terrorist in 2018. The Department of the Treasury took action under Executive Order 13224, as amended, targeting terrorist groups and their supporters. For more information regarding today’s action, please see the Treasury press release.”

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power Palestinian Politics Sanctions and Illicit Finance U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy