Mass funeral for Qatif bombing victims

Updated 26 May 2015
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Mass funeral for Qatif bombing victims

QATIF: Tens of thousands of people gathered Monday for a mass funeral for the victims of a mosque bombing authorities called an attempt by Islamic State militants to sow sectarian strife.
Mourners from the kingdom’s minority crowded the streets in the mainly Shiite Qatif district of the Eastern Province to show their respect for the 21 dead, who included two children.
An imam led the funeral prayer in a marketplace under a cloudless sky, as a breeze carried the fragrance of the herb placed on prayer mats upon which the bodies lay.
The bodies were then carried on litters decked with flowers in a final procession toward the cemetery in Kudeih village, where the attack took place on Friday.
Everybody “is very much anxious to participate... to express their support,” one organizer said ahead of the funeral, asking not to be named.
The suicide bombing, during the main weekly Muslim prayers in Kudeih, was the second mass killing of Shiites in the kingdom since late last year.
In November, gunmen killed seven Shiites in the Eastern Province town of Al-Dalwa.
Asked whether he feared a new attack during the funeral, the organizer said: “Nobody can predict anything. We have taken all precautions in coordination with local authorities.”
He added that tens of thousands of people had volunteered to act as crowd marshals for the ceremony.
He said safety concerns had prompted organizers to ask women to stay away from the funeral but that a separate area had been set up for them to offer condolences after the burials.
Black flags of mourning flew in the streets of Qatif, where police mounted checkpoints while volunteer marshals in bright yellow and orange vests inspected vehicles.
“What happened, the unfortunate event, made us more united,” said Ayman Alawi Abu Rahi, who is from Kudeih.
“We as a Shiite community, we are not afraid of explosions. We condemn the terrorists,” but not Sunnis. “They pray in our mosques,” he said.
The Islamic State group said it carried out the bombing, the first time the jihadists, who control swathes of neighboring Iraq and Syria, had claimed an attack in Saudi Arabia.
The Interior Ministry confirmed that the bomber, a Saudi national, had links with IS, which considers Shiites to be heretics.
It was the deadliest attack in years in Saudi Arabia, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman vowed on Sunday that anyone with the slightest involvement in the “heinous crime” would be punished.


Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

Updated 6 min 41 sec ago
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Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

THE HAGUE: Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a Syrian asylum seeker suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of the Al-Nusra Front militant group, prosecutors said.
The 47-year-old man, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Khuder, was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said.
“The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander or a terrorist Jabhat Al-Nusra battalion,” the prosecutor said in a statement, using another name for the Al-Nusra front.
It said he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).
The arrested Syrian has lived in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, the statement said.
Police searched the suspect’s house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone, it said, adding that he was due to appear in court on Friday.
He was arrested based on information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.
German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.
The Al-Nusra Front was allied to Al-Qaeda but renounced ties to the group. Under a new name, it now dominates the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which holds administrative control of the Syrian city of Idlib.
The arrest of the Syrian comes as the Netherlands grapples with the problem of what to do with home-grown radicals who went to fight in Syria.
At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to join militant groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.
Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.
The issue was highlighted in March when the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join Daesh said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.