“It’s clear there are religious motives behind these acts,” Ahmed Abdul-Hussein, a member of the local council’s legal committee, said. “Religious extremists believe that by targeting these places, they are correcting society’s mistakes and furthering their message. But,” Abdul-Hussein added, “we cannot rule out the possibility that there are certain political groups who are targeting these cafes and casinos with the aim of disrupting Basra’s security situation.
Security forces say they have arrested someone responsible but, like many locals, Abdul-Hussein says he doesn’t believe they’ve caught the right person. He thinks the announcement was made just to assuage popular anger at the bombings.
“We believe there are some influential figures standing behind these attacks,” local civil rights activist, Alaa al-Imarah, told NIQASH, before asking how these extremists were actually able to carry out their plans without some sort of contacts or influential connections.
Al-Imarah says he has good reason for his suspicions. “Most of the targeted cafes and casinos are in the heart of Basra city,” he explains. “It would be difficult for terrorists to get to them, let alone plant bombs, especially with so much security in the area. For example, the Arous Al Basra venue is only a few dozen metres away from the governor’s building and there are security offices there too. The same thing applies to the Coffee Time Café in Algiers Street where there are many security officers and surveillance cameras.”
There’s no difference between what the apparently Shiite Muslim extremists are doing and what the extremist Sunni Muslim group known as the Islamic State is doing, al-Imarah said.
“And depriving women of jobs and wage will simply see the women resort to other ways – possibly immoral and unethical ways – to make a living for their families,” he concludes.