Sunni Radicals of ISIS seek showdown with Lebanon’s Hizbullah

By Radwan Mortada

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has decided to instigate a full-scale conflagration in Lebanon. All indications show that the al-Qaeda offshoot is resolved to bring back suicide bombings en masse to the country of the cedars.

After all, Lebanon is within the borders of ISIS’ coveted emirate, yet its most important significance may be the fact that it is the home of Hezbollah, “the biggest enemy fighting Sunnis in Syria” in the eyes of the jihadis. Hence, hitting Hezbollah there would increase ISIS’ popularity in jihadi circles in Syria and among other global jihadi groups.

Security sources have revealed to Al-Akhbar that the terrorist cells intercepted at the Napoleon and Duroy hotels in Beirut had been dispatched by ISIS as part of its strategy to overwhelm Lebanon with a formidable wave of suicide bombings. The security services base this reading on the previous modus operandi and strategy of the terrorist cells, and also the information relayed by U.S. and European sources, indicating that the suicide bombers had been dispatched by ISIS to Lebanon.

According to available information, the jihadi operatives who have been activated are mostly combatants who travelled from Syria to Lebanon via Turkey, or Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian nationals who had fought in Syria, before returning to Lebanon to form logistical networks assisting suicide bombers sent from abroad. What reinforces the view that ISIS is involved is the sheer amount of money that has been spent on the suicide bombers, including their travel, accommodation, and transportation costs, and the nature of the terrorist gear, since ISIS has access to huge human, material, and intelligence resources compared to other jihadi groups.

In the course of the ongoing investigations, the ISIS hypothesis has been further corroborated by the identity of the alleged terrorist fixer Al-Monzer Khaldoun al-Hassan, brother of two jihadis who died in Syria nearly a year ago. Hassan booked the hotel rooms, transported the suicide bombers, and provided them with the necessary equipment. Hassan reportedly has ties to fugitive Palestinian national Ahmed Taha, who is suspected of staging rocket attacks on Dahiyeh and involvement in bringing car bombs to Beirut’s southern suburb, bearing in mind that Taha is likely to be present in Syria where he has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

In the meantime, investigators are leaning strongly to separating the case of the suicide bombers caught in the hotels and the case of the perpetrators of the attacks in Dahr al-Baidar and Tayouneh. Furthermore, the vehicle used in the first attack had been brought to Beirut from the Bekaa, while the vehicle used in the second attack had been purchased in Beirut; surveillance cameras did not spot it moving outside the capital, meaning the car had not been rigged in the Bekaa Valley.

Security officials involved in the investigations believe it likely that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades were indeed behind the attacks in Tayouneh and Dahr al-Baidar. By contrast, the security officials say the would-be suicide bombers intercepted in two Beirut hotels are likely to be part of a plot hatched outside Lebanon, which confirms that ISIS is behind them.

The same sources declined to talk about current surveillance operations, but pointed out that ISIS intends to stage major attacks, with a view to settle the question of who should lead jihadi groups in its favor.

On Thursday, social media sites were abuzz with an unverified message declaring ISIS was behind the suicide bombers caught in the hotels. Meanwhile, al-Nusra Front military commander Abu Hammam al-Suri has called on all “mujahidin” to prepare themselves to take the fight to “Shia cities in Lebanon” and for a showdown with Hezbollah.

Follow Radwan Mortada on Twitter: @radwanmortada

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Mirrored from Al-Akhbar

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Al-Akhbar English by Al-Akhbar English is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Related video added by Juan Cole

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9 Responses

    • Based on the behavior of oil sheikh-financed jihadis in the rest of the Sunni world, they and any regime they create will be a hundred times worse that the power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon. What, Mr. Bender, do you think these fanatics will do to Lebanon’s soon-to-be majority Shia population, which has had to live for 70 years under a constitution that refuses to allow them to win elections? The Christians of Lebanon have already engaged in mass murder against Palestinians.

  1. There was no Hezbollah until Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied part of the country for several years until they were forced out by attrition. Hezbollah is merely the reaction to Israeli belligerence.

    • Agreed! That part of Lebanon occupied by Israel also included the third UN-partitioned territory “given” to the Palestinians, along the Lebanon border. When we look at the original UN partitioning map, it’s easy to see how much was taken from the Palestinians by Israel since December 1948. Now we talk about respecting and abiding to the 1967 borders’ agreement, but the UN should have imposed its original 1948 partitioned borders. The British and the US didn’t help enforcing it, although the Palestinians, nearly 2 million then compared to roughly 150,000 Jews, were left with only 43% of the whole of their Palestine…

  2. Lebanon had enough wars and warring campaigns. Far from being the best idea… I remember the shelling done by a US cruiser over Beirout during the first and most destructive war in Lebanon, in the Gemayel era…

  3. Hezbollah is run by grown-ups. The Arab oligarchs have tried to rule Lebanon with Maronite fascists, neoliberal billionaires, and now a would-be Taliban. Infantile fantasies all. None of them could have developed the sophisticated defenses that bedeviled the Israelis during their last invasion. None of them are as willing to parcel out power to maintain peace as Hezbollah is, despite the fact that if there were ever a fair election it would overwhelm everyone else. The argument against Shia rule really is that the Shia are poor, and the poor must be inferior. They don’t look at all inferior to the (US & Israel-approved) alternatives.

  4. I read that the security were claiming that one of the hotel room bombers were of Saudi origin. The Daily Star paper kept referencing to the Saudi Arabian embassy nearby.

    Al Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra apparently didn’t want us to forget about them still being an international player and goal to bomb Shia cities, which pretty much has been expected over the years from every sort of different local Lebanese, regional or foreign Sunni Islamist terrorist group.

    Hezbollah shouldn’t have backed Assad. But the rationale of viewing a greater threat in the Syrian opposition, and hence unwillingness to cut a deal with ‘moderate’ FSA who were at the time still allied with the extremist jihadists in the opposition, becomes a bit clearer. Either ways, it doesn’t look good.

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