Kuwait Says It Will Shut Down Papers that Report on Terrorist Investigations

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(AP) Kuwait?s Cabinet will suspend or shut down newspapers that publish information about ongoing investigations of suspected terrorists or any unauthorized security information, the prime minister warned in remarks published today.

This small state has since last month been locked in an unprecedented battle against militants accused of planning to attack the country?s state security as well as American civilians and members of the U.S. military serving here or on their way to neighboring Iraq.

?What a journalist considers a scoop could … endanger the safety of security men or the investigations with suspects in custody, and help fugitives still being chased,? Al-Rai Al-Aam daily quoted Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah as saying.

Sheik Sabah met with the editors-in-chief of the country?s seven dailies yesterday. They all published remarks from the meeting.

Several of Kuwait?s privately owned newspapers have published details about investigations and police raids without identifying their sources. Some have mentioned names of security officers and details about the operations, including how suspects were moving around Kuwait and in which cars.

Newspapers that don?t comply with the new order will be temporarily suspended or their licenses will be withdrawn, Sheik Sabah said, according to the newspapers. The country?s 1961 Press Law, which is widely opposed by civil-rights activists, gives the Cabinet that right.

Since Jan. 10, police have clashed with fundamentalists and pursued them around the country, killing eight militants. Some 40 terror suspects have been detained and are being interrogated by the prosecution. Others are still at large. Among those in custody is suspected ring leader Amer Khlaif al-Enezi, a former mosque preacher.

Sheik Sabah said authorities were ?ahead of? the terrorists because they were getting intelligence about their plans before they carry them out. He did not elaborate, but he said cooperation with all Gulf countries has been ?beneficeal.?

As part of its efforts to combat the militants, the government is clamping down on Internet sites that encourage intolerance and confiscating inflammatory books from mosques mosques. State-owned television has been running interviews with senior Muslim clerics condemning the violence.

Unlicensed mosques will be closed, and text in school books that inspires intolerance will be deleted, Sheik Sabah told the editors. This is the first time a senior official clearly addresses curriculum issues. Westernized liberals had been calling for a review of text books for years.

According to Al-Anbaa daily, Sheik Sabah said the government was considering a new court circuit for terror cases. They are now heard by criminal courts.

The prime minister warned the battle with extremists has not ended and could spread to other Gulf states. ?We know that terrorist attacks have subsided in Iraq, and this means [terrorists] will come to us or to Saudi Arabia,? he was quoted by Al-Rai Al-Aam as saying.

He said one Kuwaiti was detained in Iraq for taking up arms alongside insurgents fighting Americans there, and two Kuwaitis were held in Syria. Sheik Sabah did not elaborate.

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