x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Military denies spy cell in Kuwait

A senior Iranian military official yesterday denied allegations that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps established a spy cell in Kuwait.

KUWAIT CITY // A senior Iranian military official yesterday denied allegations that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps established a spy cell in Kuwait while some the country's parliamentarians questioned the government's silence on the issue and demanded action against Iran. The local newspaper Al Qabas reported on Saturday that security forces had arrested at least seven men for their involvement in a spy cell that was gathering information about Kuwaiti and US targets for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), quoting high-ranking security sources.

Confessions from the suspects have indicated the involvement of six Kuwaitis and two stateless citizens who work in the country's military, and one Lebanese suspect still on the run, the newspaper reported yesterday. The reports about the IRGC's involvement in espionage in Kuwait is an attempt by "the Zionist media and its proxies" to spread a "phobia" against the organisation, its head of public relations, General Ramezan Sharif, told Fars News Agency. The Iranian embassy strongly denied any link to the alleged cell.

Security forces discovered maps, sophisticated communications equipment and more than US$250,000 (Dh918,224) after raiding a leader of the alleged cell's house, the newspaper reported on Saturday. It said the accused confessed to trying to recruit new members who were sympathetic to the ideas of the IRGC. Members of the group had visited Iran under the pretext of medical treatment, tourism and visiting religious sites, the report said.

The Kuwaiti government has made no official statement, which has sparked intense media interest in Kuwait, and yesterday in parliament, the speaker of the house, Jassim al Kharafi, urged it to do so, because "comment can be made after the whole picture has emerged". Other MPs were not so reticent. Mohammed Hayef, an Islamist parliamentarian, called on the government to cancel all of its agreements and end diplomatic relations with Iran.

Speaking on behalf of the Reform and Development Bloc, a coalition of four Islamist MPs, Faisal al Muslim said the government's silence over the issue is surprising and the security force's discovery of the network demonstrates that Iran continues to represent a threat to the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council. The minister for state for National Assembly affairs, Mohammed al Busairi, said he regretted the media's handling of an issue related to the security of the state, which includes details of things that are "not well established".

jcalderwood@thenational.ae Correction: This article has been altered to reflect that Jassim al Kharafi, urged the Kuwait government to make a statement, because "comment can be made after the whole picture has emerged".