'Severe plot'

Saad al-Anzi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kuwait, said: "The men have been accused of planning to use a truck full of fertiliser and gas cylinders to attack the base.

"Kuwait borders Iraq, and even though it is the most secure of all its borders, there is still the chance that some people in Iraq can come here and mobilise some Kuwaitis.

"If the plot is true, it will be one of the most severe plots undertaken by al-Qaeda since 2005."

Al-Arabiya television, the Dubai-based television channel, said the attack was going to be carried out during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on around August 20.

Confrontations

In 2005, men accused of plotting to attack US forces in the emirate and in Iraq were involved in a deadly gunfight with Kuwaiti troops.

A Kuwaiti court commuted death sentences two years later against four members of the Peninsula Lions Brigades, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, to life in prison over the gunbattles that killed eight members of the group, including two Saudis, and four policemen.

Former US president George Bush visited Arifjan in January 2008 and Obama travelled there in July [EPA]
 
The latest al-Qaeda plot was revealed just days after a visit to Washington by Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, Kuwait's emir, who met Barack Obama, the US president, at the White House on August 3.

Obama visited Camp Arifjan in July 2008, before becoming president the following January, after his predecessor George Bush made a trip there in January 2008.

Kuwait is one of the world's leading oil producers. The Opec member state sits on around 10 per cent of global crude reserves and pumps 2.2 million barrels per day.

Kuwaitis make up a third of the total population, which numbers just under 3.5 million people.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, fought a wave of attacks by the network from 2003 to 2006. Around 1,000 people have since been charged.