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Islamic State Warns of 'Black Days' for Saudi Arabia as Bomber in Mosque Attack Is Identified

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 21 people on Friday at a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia.
May 23, 2015, 9:01pm
Photo via EPA

The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia on Friday, with the militant group warning that "black days" loom ahead for the Kingdom.

The bombing hit the Imam Ali Shiite mosque in the Saudi village of al-Qadeeh in Qatif province during midday prayer when more than 150 worshippers were in attendance. At least 21 people were killed and 81 others wounded, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Islamic State's al-Bayan radio station broadcast a statement claiming the attack on Friday night, and the message was subsequently posted to militant websites on Saturday morning.

The statement identified the suicide bomber as a Saudi citizen with the nom de guerre Abu Amer al-Najdi. According to AFP, Saudi officials identified the bomber's true identity as Salih bin Abdulrahman Salih al-Ghishaami and confirmed his nationality.

Related: Suicide Attack on Shia Mosque Rocks Saudi Arabia

"He was wanted by security services for belonging to a terrorist cell receiving directions from Daesh abroad," the Saudi Interior Ministry reportedly said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

The IS radio station attributed the attack to new IS unit in Najd Province, a reference to the historic region of the central Arabian Peninsula home to the Saudi capital Riyadh. The message also pledged to expel all Shiites from the Arabian Peninsula, and warned of "black days that will hurt you."

IS has increasingly persecuted Shiites and other minority groups as they have seized control of much of Syria and Iraq. The militant group previously claimed responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings that targeted Shiite mosques in in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in March, and was also blamed for the killing of eight Shiites in a mosque shooting in eastern Saudi Arabia in November.

Related: More Than 120 Killed as Twin Suicide Bombings Hit Shia Mosques in Yemen's Capital

Saudi Arabia predominantly follows the Sunni branch of Islam, but it also has a Shiite population of 2.7 million that comprises around 10 to 15 percent of the population. Denounced as heretics and discriminated against by ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia, the Shiites are largely concentrated in the country's east, including in Qatif province.

The Saudis have launched airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, and are also part of the US-led coalition targeting IS in Iraq and Syria. In late April, Saudi officials arrested 93 suspected members of IS who were allegedly plotting to attack the US embassy and other targets, along with senior military personnel and civilians.

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