Ever since those six men were arrested (two were recently released) on charges of terrorism, there have been widespread rumors that it is the US interests on the island that have been pressuring the government to take these actions; and that they are effectively running the show. Up until now there had been no official word from any US authority about what their role is in all of this.
One would expect that if this rumour has any truth behind it, then the US authorities would continue to keep their mouths shut, so as not to attract any more attention than they already have. If however they really aren't behind any of this and they want to disassociate themselves from the arrests, then we might expect them to publicly deny all of the rumours.
I was then rather confused when I read an article in Monday's GDN in which Vice-Admiral David Nichols, commander of the Fifth Fleet, gave his opinion about the arrests. He did not mention whether the US had any influence over the arrests, but praised the acts as a step against terrorism. I mean it doesn't really make sense. Why should the GDN be asking the US Navy about its opinion of the arrests? There is an official gag order on the case, so why is there an exception to publish the opinions of the Navy? The GDN certainly hasn't published the opinions of any other institution in Bahrain since the gag order was announced. Also, note how Nichols speaks about the arrests as though he is an authority on the issue.
What really confuses me is why the Navy would want to make a public statement about this in the first place, as it would seem to only help further spread the rumors. The fishiness continues...
Here is the article in question:
A series of arrests over the past four months has helped combat the immediate terrorist threat across the region, according to a top US commander. Vice-Admiral David Nichols specifically cited operations in Bahrain, the UAE, Pakistan, Oman and Kuwait as having a significant impact in the war on terror. But he warned the threat still existed and said that anti-terrorist measures would continue indefinitely.
Operations such as Task Force 150 (TF150), which is a multi-national coalition force patrolling the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Somalia Basin, are expected to go on for at least another two years.
"There have been some significant successes in terms of locating terrorists over the last three or four months," said Vice-Admiral Nichols, who was speaking to journalists after the command of TF150 was handed over to the British Royal Navy in Bahrain yesterday. "That has been the case in Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Pakistan. All that work together has made a difference. I believe it has deterred some of the immediate terrorist threat, but on the other hand terrorists are still out there. They are still very determined."
Only last month, Al Qaeda-linked terrorists were arrested in Pakistan and Dubai. Among them was Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who is accused of being the operational head for Al Qaeda. The arrests came shortly after six men were arrested in Bahrain for suspected terrorist connections. Two have since been released. "There is no immediate threat to Bahrainis, Americans or Westerners in Bahrain, but the issue we are dealing with is of a regional threat," said Vice-Admiral Nichols, who is commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command and Fifth Fleet. "The Bahrainis were arrested because they apparently had a relationship with terrorists off-island. This is a regional and transnational threat we are dealing with." The arrest of the six Bahrainis preceded the departure in early July of almost 1,000 relatives of US military personnel stationed in Bahrain. (Continued)