An Israeli delegation has canceled plans to attend a business conference in Bahrain due to threats of terrorism, organizers of the event said Sunday. The Waad Allah Brigades, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group operating in the kingdom, had threatened in a video message to launch a drone attack on Israeli representatives.
Several high-profile Israeli speakers, including Israel’s Minister of the Economy Eli Cohen and Israel Innovation Authority’s Deputy Chief Anya Eldan, were scheduled to speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Network in Manama that started Monday.
“While we advised the Israeli delegation they would be welcome, they decided this morning not to come due to security concerns and a wish not to cause disruption for the other 180 nations participating,” the organization’s president Jonathan Ortmans said.
Earlier in the week, the Waad Allah Brigades posted a video on social media threatening the Israeli delegation. The animated video, which contains captions in both Arabic and Hebrew, detailed plans to launch a drone strike on the delegation’s hotel.
The group is among several Iranian-backed militias operating in Bahrain. Authorities have accused Waad Allah of being a front group for the Saraya al-Ashtar Brigades, one of the largest Iranian-supported groups in the kingdom. Members of the group have traveled to Iran on several occasions to receive financial and logistical support from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Iran sees Bahrain as a target for intervention and subversion, as the Gulf kingdom, beyond being economically important for Tehran, retains a tenuous sociopolitical structure, with a Shiite majority population ruled by a Sunni minority monarchy that is allied to Saudi Arabia and supports the United States.
In 2017, Britain designated the Saraya al-Ashtar Brigades and proscribed the organization’s various front groups as terrorist organizations, including the Waad Allah Brigades. A July 2018 designation by the U.S. Department of State targeted the Saraya al-Ashtar Brigades but, due to the network’s complex structure, failed to designate its proxies.
[Photo: MEMRI TV Videos / YouTube]