February 14, 2005
Never underestimate the value of good will. In Kuwait, efforts by Islamic radicals to set up terrorist operations have, so far, been constantly thwarted. The main reason is the willingness of many Kuwaitis to tell the police what they see, which, for example, has enabled the police to destroy three terrorist cells in the past month. Eight terrorists and four policemen were killed during these operations. But 18 terrorist suspects were arrested, and several more are now known and being sought. Many Kuwaitis are still appreciative of American efforts to liberate them from Iraqi occupation in 1991. But there is also a major culture clash going on in Kuwait between conservative and moderate Moslems. The conservatives are a minority, but they are using their, largely self-assigned, occupation of the moral high ground, to try and impose their social and political ideas on all Kuwaitis.
More so than in Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Islamic radicalism, Kuwaitis are resisting the call for strict application of Islamic law to all facets of life. One way of resisting is not tolerating the presence of Islamic terrorists. Kuwaitis can see what that has done up north in Iraq. The Kuwaiti police and intelligence services have taken advantage of the anti-radical attitudes of most Kuwaitis, and have established an informer network that makes it difficult for Islamic radical Kuwaitis to set up terrorist operations. Kuwait is a very family oriented society. Everyone knows everyone else in extended families and clans. If one of your cousins has grown a beard, spends a lot of time at the mosque, and owns an AK-47, youll know about it. Foreigners are carefully watched, especially those from Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic terrorists are reacting to these police tactics, but are having a hard time disappearing in a society that places so much emphasis on belonging. In Kuwait, dont be a stranger isnt a friendly comment, its a way of life.