KUWAIT CITY – Relatives of a suspected Islamic militant ringleader arrested during deadly clashes in the capital publicly distanced themselves from him Tuesday, saying he and his cohorts should be relegated "to the dustbin of history."
Amer al-Enezi (search) was identified as the key figure among six alleged militants arrested after firefights that erupted during raids of suspected hideouts in the capital. Five suspects and a bystander were killed.
A previously unknown group, the Brigades of Martyr Abdulaziz al-Moqrin (search), promised to carry on its fight against the Kuwaiti government and the United States despite al-Enezi's arrest, according to a statement that surfaced Tuesday on a Web site known for posting Islamic militant content.
"Don't think even the thought that we are finished following the arrest of Sheik Amer Khlaif al-Enezi, God grant him freedom. We have only begun," the group said, addressing Kuwaiti state security.
"God willing, the raids will include you. You will regret it, you pigs of Al Sabah [the ruling family in Kuwait], you servants of the Americans," said the statement, also warning of attacks on U.S. troops based in the country, a close ally of Washington.
The brigades were named after Abdelaziz al-Moqrin, the former head of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia who was killed in a police shootout last year. There was no way to verify the statement's authenticity.
Al-Enezi's father, Khlaif al-Enezi, and scores of other relatives signed a statement denouncing him. The statement, published in Kuwaiti newspapers Tuesday, described the suspects as a "gang that lost the way and was lured by the devil."
A brother of Amer, Nasser Khlaif al-Enezi, died in a gunbattle Sunday that also killed a policeman and a bystander dead.
"May God be our witness, we have no relation with their deeds, and may they go to the dustbin of history for what they have committed," the statement said. The relatives said they join all other Kuwaitis and the government in trying to "safeguard the stability of dear and just Kuwait."
Public denunciations from the relatives of militants arrested, killed or wanted by governments in the region are not uncommon, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which has faced a far deadlier campaign of violence than Kuwait.
In Saudi Arabia, the denounciations are a significant part of Saudi Arabia's official efforts to steer youths away from militancy.
The government has provided little information on al-Enezi. A resident of the tribal city of al-Jahra told The Associated Press that he appeared to be in his 30s and used to preach at a local mosque, exhorting young men to attack Americans, Kuwaiti security forces and even moderate Muslim clerics.
The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said al-Enezi was fired from the mosque at least six months ago.
Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah (search), Kuwait's interior minister, said the suspects targeted Monday were part of "an organized terror group," but he said their aims and their backers would only be revealed by further investigation.
Sheik Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, the head of Kuwait's National Guard, has previously linked some local militants to Al Qaeda.
The militants' Web statement appealed to Kuwaitis to stay away from places where "infidel soldiers" congregate and said any loss of innocent lives would be the fault of the Kuwaiti government for allying itself with the United States and allowing U.S. bases in the country.
"God knows we didn't come to fight you or terrorize you, but to fight the infidel soldiers who are occupying your land," the statement said.
Monday's raid was the fourth in three weeks and reflected a new sense of urgency in the battle to crush Islamic extremists in Kuwait. About 30 Kuwaiti and Saudi suspects have been arrested since Jan. 10.
After Monday's raid, Kuwait's prime minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah (search), called for the "removal of this cancer before it spreads," the state-owned Kuwait News Agency reported.
The government crackdown began when the father of a Muslim extremist told police his son had befriended a group of militants and disappeared.
The son, Fawwaz al-Otaibi, was killed Jan. 10 when authorities tried to arrest him as he returned a rented car that the U.S. Embassy said he had planned to use to attack Westerners. Several accomplices fled in another car. Ensuing raids targeted al-Otaibi's accomplices, authorities said.
Kuwait, unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, has not suffered terrorist attacks on residential or government buildings. Extremists operating since 2002 have targeted the U.S. military, killing one U.S. Marine and a U.S. civilian contracted to the military. The U.S. Embassy has said a building housing Westerners had been targeted.