The curious tale of an American and $11 million in cash was "officially" put to bed yesterday with State media publishing a detailed account, following comments by the Acting General Director of Anti-corruption, Economic and Electronic Security.
On Friday, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya published the claim that an American, coming from Italy, had entered the country with $11 million in cash. Al-Arabiya's report --- now deleted, but archived elsewhere --- quoted an official:
A Bahraini source told Al Arabiya that the sum is linked to a local currency-exchange firm owned by a Jewish-Bahraini family. The source said that the sum is allocated to support a political opposition society.
Within hours, Al-Arabiya published an article retracting the story after Bahrain officials within the Interior and Foreign Ministries told them that "nobody was arrested", that the "cash entered the country legally", and that "the cash belongs to civilian employees who work for the US". The Ministry of Interior also released a denial.
The original rumour likely stems from hardline loyalists, who have been boosting an anti-American stance, fostered by a conspiratorial belief that the US is working with Israeli and Iranian forces to undermine both the Bahraini and Saudi regimes. Typically, their paranoia has focused on the State Department, recently targeting the US Ambassador. The propaganda that follows often goes unchecked by the regime.
The quick and extensive correction of this story suggests the influence the Pentagon is able to wield with allies in the Bahraini regime. However, those Pentagon officials could well be concerned by the fact that both Al Arabiya pieces refer to previous comments by the Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defense Forces, Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khlifa, accusing US NGOs of working to forment a "Shi’ite coup". The closing paragraph to a story on the $11 million by regime-linked Bahrain Chronicle is also likely to give the Pentagon pause for thought that conspiracy theories by hardliners are now encompassing the Fifth Fleet:
Sources have also confirmed that members of Al-Wefaq Society have been seen entering the American Base in Juffair at late times during the night on different days. The purpose of these visits has yet to be determined as well.