Three Islamist attacks on separate continents Friday morning have been tentatively linked to ISIS: an attack against an American factory in France that included a beheading, a shooting spree in Tunisia, and a suicide-bomb attack on a mosque in Kuwait.
An Islamic State affiliate has directly claimed responsibility for the Kuwait attack, in which a suicide bomber entered the Imam Sadiq Mosque in al-Sawabir, described as a “residential and shopping neighborhood” by the Associated Press, and reportedly killed at least 13 people when he detonated himself.
An eyewitness told the AP the attack occurred during Friday midday prayers, the most crowded event of the week, while the worshipers were “standing shoulder to shoulder in group prayer” at the Shiite mosque. Attendance was especially high due to the Muslim Ramadan holiday.
Kuwaiti officials say at least 2,000 people were inside the mosque at the time of the attack. “Footage posted online said to be from the scene of the attack showed men, some in blood-splattered clothing, walking around a smoke-filled room with rubble on the floor,” writes the BBC.
As the AP notes, the Sunni extremists of ISIS regard Shiites as heretics, apostates, and “rejectionists.” Their efforts to fan the flames of sectarian conflict in other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have involved bombing Shiite mosques.
The same ISIS-affiliated group responsible for those Saudi bombings, “Najd Province,” has claimed responsibility for the Kuwait atrocity on social media. The UK Independent identifies the suicide bomber as one Abu Suleiman al-Muwahed, and cites reports that ISIS followers are “getting very animated” on Twitter as the death toll from today’s attacks rises. Others on Twitter are said to have expressed “shock” that an attack would be “carried out on Muslims praying on a Friday during the holy month of Ramadan.”
The AP quotes Kuwait’s Justice, Religious Endowment and Islamic Affairs Minister Yacoub al-Sanna callign the attack a “terrorist and cowardly action which threatens our nation and works at tearing apart the national unity.” He promised his government would “take all necessary measures” to ensure Kuwait remains “the oasis of security and safety to all components of the Kuwaiti society and sects.”