Caption: King Hamad as he arrives to meet BDF senior staff - BNA

Manama: Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa warned on Wednesday that terrorism would threaten more lands in the region if no decisive action was taken.

“The scourge of regional terror will spread to our territories, unless we take tough measures to stave off any terrorist spillover,” the Bahraini monarch said. “Other brotherly and friendly countries have undertaken crucial measures to protect their national security and stability, including citizenship rights. Such measures are considered an inalienable right of any state,” King Hamad said during a visit to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) General Command Headquarters.

On Wednesday, a Saudi court sentenced 22 people to jail terms of between two and 27 years on charges ranging from “the establishment of a terrorist cell planning to targeting oil pipelines,” possessing weapons, and planning attacks at home and in Bahrain.

The latest developments in the region demand both firmness and determination, King Hamad said.

“We are dealing with non-conventional security challenges as one of the extremists groups seeks to subvert our security and stability and to undermine our national unity,” King Hamad said. “There are people and organisations trying to sully Bahrain’s reputation at home and abroad and to harm the national economy. At the same time, there are some young people who are being lured by extremist groups to commit acts of violence and terrorism. We cannot sit idly as young people are losing their lives. This is a collective responsibility that requires decisive and earnest measures.”

Confronting terrorism is one of Bahrain’s international commitments, King Hamad added in his address to senior army officers. “We have expressed in Paris our support for an international alliance against terrorism,” King Hamad said referring to his meeting last week with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

King Hamad also called for taking immediate legal measures that are “necessary against those who incited, financed plots or undermined the nation’s security, stability and national unity or defamed the kingdom’s reputation at home and abroad”.

King Hamad stressed the necessity of maintaining the rule of the law and preserving hard-won progress, describing the protection of constitutional accomplishments as a national responsibility, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

He warned against attempts to exploit social media to spread negative ideas and foment social unrest under the guise of freedom of opinion and human rights, stressing the need to confront such subversive cyber activities with the power of the law.

“Freedom of expression in Bahrain is guaranteed by the constitution and it is governed by the provisions of the law and the genuine values, morals and ethics of our society,” King Hamad was quoted as saying. The same approach should be adopted towards religious platforms that, despite repeated calls to engage in a moderate religious discourse, are still being exploited, King Hamad added.