A Kuwaiti court has sentenced two men to death after they were found guilty of spying for Iran and plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in conjunction with Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah. They were among 26 suspects accused of possessing explosives, guns, ammunition and unlicensed eavesdropping devices, with the intention of perpetrating crimes with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.
Police in the emirate said in August they had dismantled an Iran-linked terrorist cell and seized large quantities of arms, explosives and ammunition after an investigation. One of the men convicted was a Kuwaiti and the other an Iranian convicted in absentia.
Only last week Kuwait recalled its ambassador from Iran, which sits just a few miles away across the Persian Gulf, in protest over the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on 2 January by protesters. The crowd that day were angered by the execution of prominent anti-government cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
His death sparked a wave of sectarian protests in the Middle East which has led to the severing of diplomatic ties between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shia-led Iran. Other countries in the region then took sides with Shia-led Iraq expressing their displeasure and Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, recalling their envoys to Iran.
Of the 24 other men who stood trial, one was jailed for life, 19 were jailed for between five and 15 years whilst three were acquitted, and one was fined 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars (£11,350 or $16,450). All of the men were Kuwaiti nationals.
Hezbollah is a Shia-militant organisation which boasts some support amongst the Shia minority in Kuwait which accounts for around 300,000 of the nation's 850,000 citizens. Tensions were raised earlier this year when the Sunni-founded Islamic State (Isis) group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a Shia mosque.
The attack, which left 27 worshippers dead, came just days from Daesh(IS)-inspired attacks in Tunisia and France, the worst of its kind in the Arab kingdom. In a posthumous audio message stamped with an IS logo and posted online, al-Qabaa called Shia Muslims "enemies of God everywhere, especially in Kuwait."
Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah told the Kuwaiti parliament at the time: "We are in a state of war. It's a war that had been decided with this cell. But there are other cells, and we will not wait for them to try their luck with us."