An Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and Islamic State papers rammed into a truck carrying five US soldiers in Kuwait on Saturday, injuring only himself in the attack, authorities said.
The attempted attack is the first by the Islamic State group to target American troops in the tiny, oil-rich emirate that’s a stalwart US ally.
It comes as authorities already increased security ahead of a major Shiite commemoration in the coming days. The state-run Kuwait News Agency identified the attacker as Ibrahim Sulaiman, born in 1988, and published a picture of the alleged assailant in a hospital bed, a bruise beneath his right eye.
KUNA said the five soldiers were not injured. It said Sulaiman had multiple fractures and injuries. It was not immediately clear if the Egyptian had a lawyer.
The KUNA report did not offer a location for the failed attack, though it published pictures of the aftermath of the crash showing a wrecked garbage truck, as well as items it described as a suicide belt loaded with shrapnel. The white pickup truck apparently carrying the soldiers had the left side of its bed smashed in. American forces and others have troops stationed at Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan.
The US military’s Central Command referred a request for comment to US Army Central, based in both South Carolina and Kuwait. The Army did not immediately respond, while the US Embassy in Kuwait City had no immediate comment. Kuwait is a solid US ally following the 1991 American ed Gulf War that ended the Iraqi occupation there.
Terror attacks are rare in the emirate, where Shiites and Sunni Muslims largely live in peace. An Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores. The extremist group, which holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, did not immediately claim the failed assault Saturday, though the Interior Ministry described Sulaiman as having “paper in his handwriting indicating he had adopted terrorist thought and had pledged allegiance to the group.” Such attacks on US forces are incredibly rare in Kuwait.
In 2003, a former US Army sergeant named Hasan Akbar in the 101st Airborne Division threw four hand grenades into tents in Kuwait as members of his division slept, then fired his rifl e at soldiers in the ensuing chaos in the early days of the American-led invasion of Iraq. He was sentenced to death for killing two soldiers and wounding 14.
A security source revealed that investigation is still underway regarding the incident, affirming the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Muhammad Al-Khaled is still monitoring ensuing developments and with every detail related to the vital targets of terrorists and their local and foreign links.
The source explained that part of the issue is linked to the “intentional” traffic accident that occurred on the Seventh Ring Road where police officers found at the scene an Egyptian expatriate with papers that appeared to be written instructions similar to those issued by members of “DAESH” inside the vehicle. During interrogation, the Egyptian confessed having attempted to murder an American residence through the road accident in question.
The suspect also confessed to conniving with four other expatriates, all of them Egyptians, whom the authorities have since arrested. Preliminary investigation showed they were planning to hit several locations of interest of the United State of America, including military camps and that the entire planning had taken place outside the country, said the source.
The same source added that “among the suspects is an Imam of a mosques in Abdullah Al-Mubarak area, and police officers have found in his house materials that could be used in making explosives, alongside instructional booklets on how to make bomb, and description of the plan on targeting foreigners— among them Americans”.
In the same context, eye witness affirmed that police vehicles cordon off Abdullah Al-Mubarak area in the early hours of yester-night, as they manned the exit points to ensure that the suspects were arrested.
Earlier in 2002 ahead of the invasion, a US Marine was shot dead and another wounded in an attack by Islamic extremists in Kuwait, while a police officer later shot and wounded two other American soldiers. The reported failed attack comes ahead of the Shiite commemoration of Ashoura, which marks the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century.
Kuwaiti police have promised increased security ahead of Ashoura. Two Iranians were arrested in recent days for taking “suspicious” photographs ahead of the commemoration.