Saudi Shia mobilize self-defence groups as IS threat grows


Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority are forming civil defense groups after twin suicide bombings over the past two Fridays — claimed by the so-called Islamic (IS).

The attacks, which killed about 25 people, mark an escalation of IS activity in the oil-rich kingdom, with the group saying it wants to rid the Arabian peninsula of Shia Muslims. Last November, IS gunmen killed seven worshippers at a Shia shrine in al-Ahsa, in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The worst sectarian atrocities in the kingdom’s modern history have prompted the formation of civil defense groups among the country’s 10-15 per cent Shia minority, an “unprecedented development”, according to analysts.


Activists say the self-defense groups have detained people on suspicion of planning to carry out further attacks, handing them over to security forces.

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