Skip to main content

Bahrain royal appears to admit he 'beat' opposition activists in London

Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa's Instagram account carries message 'confessing' to altercation, and claims Qatar is directing UK police
Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa (centre) with his son Rashid (right) and another family member (screengrab)

A member of Bahrain's royal family has appeared to admit he "beat" pro-democracy activists on London's Oxford Street and accuse British police of being "directed" by Qatar after detectives opened an investigation into the altercation.

In a string of social media posts from his Instagram account on Monday, Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling family and a former interior ministry official, appears to say he "beat" opposition activists during an encounter on 14 April.

The posts on Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa’s Instagram account appeared several hours after Middle East Eye revealed that the Bahraini royal, who is the brother of the deputy chief of public security in the strategically vital Gulf kingdom, was involved in an altercation that is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police after an "allegation of a public order offence". 

Translation: Qatar directed the British police and incited them against us. I challenge your suspicious organisations and the remnants of Iran. No matter what you pay them, Tamim [bin Hamad al-Thani, Emir of Qatar] will fall. Do not try to break us with this charade. I challenge you and your dad, from another sex and we will meet soon oh dogs of Iran.

Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa's son and an unidentified relative were also involved in the altercation.

"I confessed from the first day that yes, we beat [you/them]," one post reads. "I can put Tamin [the emir of Qatar] and his father from another sex under my feet and walk all over them. Oh dogs, long live my hands and the hands of the guys I know who put you in your place."

The Oxford Street incident was filmed by human rights campaigners Isa al-Ali and Moosa Abdali. The Metropolitan Police also received a complaint about alleged "malicious communications" sent through social media to the activists in the hours after the altercation.

In a separate post, which appeared after MEE broke the news of the Metropolitan Police investigation, Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa appears to blame Qatar for instigating the Metropolitan Police investigation.

Translation: I confessed from the first day that yes, we beat [you/them]. What are you going to do about it? I can put Tamim (referring to the emir of Qatar) and his father from another sex under my feet and walk all over them. Oh dogs, long live my hands and the hands of the guys I know who put you in your place. I don't blame the opposition, but I blame Qatar's dogs.

"Qatar directed the British police and incited them against us," it reads. "Do not try and break us with this charade. I challenge you [the Emir of Qatar] and your dad, from another sex and will meet soon, oh dogs of Iran."

Nicholas McGeehan, a Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch, the organisation which first documented the Oxford Street incident and online threats, told MEE: "This has nothing to do with the Gulf’s internal squabbles and everything to do with the fact that the UK police take public order offences very seriously."

Bahrain is one of several Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia that is blockading Qatar over claims it supports extremism. Bahrain has presented no evidence that Qatar is supporting dissidents in the kingdom or in London.

The posts from the account of Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa are also littered with references to the "dogs of Iran".  The Bahraini government has long maintained that Shia pro-democracy activists are supported by regional rival Iran, a claim activists deny.

Translation: Thank God for you are a symbol of glory [a reference to Bahrain]. Shepherds with their camels have sang songs for your glory. Bahrain has risen high. I will build a monument for Bahrain higher than Mars and Saturn.

In other posts from the account, he appears to praise Bahrain as a "symbol of glory" and say "Bahrain has risen". One message states he is planning to travel to London again in late June, where he will be willing to "drink coffee" with opposition figures.

Opposition sources say such a meeting is unlikely.

The police investigation in London comes amid a continuing rights crackdown in the Gulf kingdom. Bahraini police raids left five dead in late May in some of the worst violence seen in the country since 2011.

The country has also banned opposition parties and imprisoned key opposition leaders.

Translation: I am going to London on the fourth day of Eid with Allah's will. If I see the opposition, we will sit down with them and drink coffee as we like and it's not Qatar's business.

Brian Dooley, a senior adviser at Washington DC-based Human Rights First, told MEE: "Bahrain's ruling family ought to accept a different level of scrutiny for their actions in London compared to Manama.

"Whatever their sense of entitlement they're not above the UK law. It might be a new experience for some Bahrainis to see a case judged on its evidence but that's what should happen here and, if anyone is guilty, they ought to be held fully accountable."  

The video of the altercation on 14 April appears to show Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, who has previously described Shia opposition activists as "sons of whores and pimps", threatening Ali and Abdali.

The video also appears to show Rashid, an officer in Bahrain's military, making threats against Abdali, 36, and al-Ali, 22, including what seems to be a veiled threat against the men's families in Bahrain.

Bahrain royal family members face London police investigation
Read More »

In the wake of the incident, Ali and Abdali also complained to the police in London that they and their families received several threats on social media after the altercation on Oxford Street.

Human Rights Watch said one message sent to Ali from the social media account of Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa said those involved in the altercation on Oxford Street would "bear the consequences... from me personally".

A Metropolitan Police spokesman told MEE that the investigation was "ongoing" and refused to be drawn on whether Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa would face arrest if he returned to the UK.

MEE has approached Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa and Bahrain's embassy in London for comment, but has not received a response.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.