ICC Note: We have been writing about the situation in Lebanon for the last six months or so. We remain extremely concerned for the beleivers there as they are caught in the middle of the Sunni/Shia tug of war and seen as agents of the West. Please keep them in prayer.
Lebanon links Islamists to bus attacks
Officials say four members of Fatah al-Islam, a group allegedly linked to the Iraq insurgency and backed by Syria , have confessed.
By Raed Rafei
2007-03-14 Lebanon (For the full story, go to the LA Times) Officials here Tuesday linked a pair of deadly bombings last month to a group they said was composed of Syria-backed Sunni Arab veterans of the Iraq insurgency.
Lebanese government officials said Tuesday that four Syrian nationals belonging to Fatah al-Islam, a self-proclaimed Sunni militant group, had been arrested and confessed to the bombings that killed three people in a mostly Christian district in the mountains overlooking the capital.
The alleged confessions have raised fears that Sunni extremists are plotting terrorist attacks in a country already perched on the edge of domestic warfare. Officials including Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa, a Sunni who belongs to a political coalition long critical of Syria , accused that country of standing behind the group.
“It is no secret that Fatah al-Islam is part of the Syrian intelligence-security apparatus,” Sabaa told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
He said the group had been plotting another attack against Christian targets before March 14, the anniversary of a massive demonstration in 2005 against the ruling government.
In the last two years, Lebanese authorities have announced the arrests of several alleged members of Al Qaeda but have provided no information about their fate.
Today, members of Fatah al-Islam openly conduct military training in the refugee camp under the eye of the Lebanese army, which has set up checkpoints at the entrances to control them. Lebanese forces cannot crack down on the group because it meets inside a Palestinian camp, Fatfat said. (An informal agreement reached between Palestinians and the government at the 1990 conclusion of Lebanon’s civil war provides for the refugee camps to remain outside the authority of the army.)
Palestinian factions coexist with Fatah al-Islam, fearing that conflict could lead to many civilian deaths.
Meanwhile, Fatah al-Islam is purportedly establishing contacts with Islamists in Lebanon ‘s mostly Sunni and Christian north. Residents and officials in the camp say outlawed Islamists from other camps in the country have joined them.
“What is worrying is that this group has good financial resources,” said Salah, the refugee leader. “They are clearly getting support from someone, but whom? Nobody knows.”