Bahrain says it has arrested six people to prevent them from committing attacks in the tiny Gulf island state.
The men’s lawyer said they were seized in pre-dawn raids but said there were no “activities calling for an arrest”.
Some of them had previously been held for allegedly being linked to al-Qaeda, the lawyer said, but were released because of lack of evidence.
Bahrain’s interior minister said they were held “to prevent them from committing dangerous operations”.
Lawyer Abdullah Hashim told Reuters news agency that the men have not been charged but “but there is talk about links to al-Qaeda”.
|My clients were picked up early this morning, and I believe they have no links to al-Qaeda|
He said the men – Bassam al-Ali, Bassam Bukhowa, Yasser and Omar Kamal and Mohedin and Ali Khan – included people rounded up last year for alleged al-Qaeda links.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed al-Khalifa told the Bahrain News Agency that the arrests were made after security forces searched several areas.
“[They] arrested six people to prevent them from committing dangerous operations that would have threatened people and their possessions,” he said.
Bahrain hosts the United States Fifth Fleet and is home to a large number of expatriates living among an indigenous population of about 400,000 people.
The father of brothers Yasser and Omar Kamal told reporters that one had been picked up at an internet cafe, the other at home.
“What can a youngster like Omar do, he’s only 17,” Adullah Kamal is quoted as saying.
Police also searched the home of Sheikh Mohammad Saleh and confiscated documents, books and computer discs, but he was not arrested, AFP reported.
Mr Ali was arrested in February 2003 for allegedly running a terror cell but was released in June for lack of evidence.
Bahrain allows a level of openness not seen in some other Gulf states
Sheikh Mohammad was arrested in Saudi Arabia last July and released in April.
The suspects are variously reported to be followers of the extremist Sunni Salafi movement, which is close to Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, or Wahhabis – the prevailing sect in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The island state of Bahrain is a far more open and liberal society than Saudi Arabia, which can be reached by just a short drive over the King Fahd causeway.
Alcohol is sold openly and bars, nightclubs and cinemas are permitted.
Many expatriate workers in eastern Saudi Arabia are reported to be considering relocating to Bahrain following a spate of anti-foreigner attacks carried out by Islamic militants.