KUWAIT CITY (AP) 10/08 — An Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and Islamic State papers rammed into a truck carrying five U.S. soldiers in Kuwait on Saturday, injuring only himself in the attack, authorities said.
The attempted attack is the first by the Islamic State group to target American troops in the tiny, oil-rich emirate that’s a stalwart U.S. ally. It comes as authorities already increased security ahead of a major Shiite commemoration in the coming days.
Kuwait’s Interior Ministry identified the attacker as Ibrahim Sulaiman, born in 1988, and published a picture of the alleged assailant in a hospital bed, a bruise beneath his right eye. The ministry said the five soldiers were not injured. It said Sulaiman had multiple fractures and injuries.
It was not immediately clear if the Egyptian had a lawyer. The ministry did not offer a location for the failed attack, though it published pictures of the aftermath of the crash showing a wrecked garbage truck, as well as items it described as a suicide belt loaded with shrapnel. The white pickup truck apparently carrying the soldiers had the left side of its bed smashed in.
American forces and others have troops stationed at Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan. The U.S. military’s Central Command referred a request for comment to U.S. Army Central, based in both South Carolina and Kuwait. The Army did not immediately respond, while the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City had no immediate comment.
Kuwait is a solid U.S. ally following the 1991 American-led Gulf War that ended the Iraqi occupation there. Terror attacks are rare in the emirate, where Shiites and Sunni Muslims largely live in peace.
An Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores. The extremist group, which holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, did not immediately claim the failed assault Saturday, though the Interior Ministry described Sulaiman as having “paper in his handwriting indicating he had adopted terrorist thought and had pledged allegiance to the group.”
Such attacks on U.S. forces are incredibly rare in Kuwait. In 2003, a former U.S. Army sergeant named Hasan Akbar in the 101st Airborne Division threw four hand grenades into tents in Kuwait as members of his division slept, then fired his rifle at soldiers in the ensuing chaos in the early days of the American-led invasion of Iraq. He was sentenced to death for killing two soldiers and wounding 14.
Earlier in 2002 ahead of the invasion, a U.S. Marine was shot dead and another wounded in an attack by Islamic extremists in Kuwait, while a police officer later shot and wounded two other American soldiers.
The reported failed attack comes ahead of the Shiite commemoration of Ashoura, which marks the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century.
Kuwaiti police have promised increased security ahead of Ashoura. Two Iranians were arrested in recent days for taking “suspicious” photographs ahead of the commemoration.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.