Americans in Bahrain warned about possible extremist threats
By HENDRICK SIMOES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 3, 2013
MANAMA, Bahrain — The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans in Bahrain about possible threats from extremists in the kingdom, which has been the scene of political unrest for many years.
In a security message released Sunday, embassy officials said “extremist elements of certain opposition groups have conducted surveillance on U.S. personnel” in various locations. These included the Navy Support Activity Bahrain, the Bahrain School where American students attend, and other areas that Americans frequent.
However, diplomatic officials said the message was more of a “periodic notice” and that there are no specific threats against U.S. personnel or facilities. They pointed out that there have been no attacks on U.S. citizens in Bahrain to date.
In a separate message to servicemembers and families, U.S. Navy force protection officials urged them to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to base security personnel.
“We do receive reports of surveillance ... whether they reflect actual surveillance is unknown,” said Cmdr. Jason Salata, U.S. Navy 5th Fleet spokesman. “Our people here are in no more danger after this message than they were before the message was sent,” assured Salata.
He explains it’s always “prudent” to remind personnel overseas to “remain alert and be aware of the conditions around them.”
For several years, Bahrain — home to the U.S. 5th Fleet — has experienced demonstrations sparked by segments from its Shiite majority, which is demanding a greater political voice in the Sunni-dominated political system.
Protests have ranged from peaceful marches to violent demonstrations with participants throwing Molotov cocktails and using improvised explosive devices.
Analysts have warned that a segment of Shiite opposition appeared to be growing increasingly more radical in recent months. Last week an explosion from a homemade bomb injured seven police officers west of the capital of Manama.
Approximately 6,500 U.S. personnel serve in Bahrain in support of U.S. Navy activities.
American Alley, located near Naval Support Activity Bahrain, got its name from the number of popular American restaurants on it. Officials believe extreme elements of opposition groups in Bahrain have been conducting surveillance of American Alley and other locations U.S. personnel frequent.
HENDRICK SIMOES/STARS AND STRIPES