From Riyadh to Beirut, fear of Syria blowback

 (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

(AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

AP, By BASSEM MROUE and AYA BATRAWY:

BISARIYEH, Lebanon (AP) — The once-tranquil, religiously mixed village of Bisariyeh is seething: Two of its young men who fought alongside the rebels in Syria recently returned home radicalized and staged suicide bombings in Lebanon.

The phenomenon is being watched anxiously across the Mideast, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where authorities are moving decisively to prevent citizens from going off to fight in Syria.

The developments illustrate how the Syrian war is sending dangerous ripples across a highly combustible region and sparking fears that jihadis will come home with dangerous ideas and turn their weapons against their own countries.

In Lebanon, where longstanding tensions between Sunnis and Shiites have been heightened by the conflict next door, the fear of blowback has very much turned into reality.

The social fabric of towns and villages across the country is being torn by conflicting loyalties and a wave of bombings carried out by Sunni extremists in retaliation for the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah’s military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In the past few months, at least five Sunni men have disappeared from Bisariyeh, an impoverished, predominantly Shiite village in south Lebanon, and are believed to have gone to fight in Syria.

Two of them — Nidal Mughayar and Adan al-Mohammad — returned and blew themselves up outside Iranian targets in Beirut. The blasts, by Mughayar on Feb. 19 and al-Mohammad on Nov. 18, killed scores.

“He was a good man with a good heart, but it seems that people who have no conscience brainwashed him,” Hisham al-Mughayar said of his 20-year-old son.

As news spread in the village that Nidal was one of the bombers, angry Shiite residents marched to his parents’ home and set it on fire along with the family’s grocery and four vehicles.

“He destroyed himself and destroyed us with him,” said the father, as he took an Associated Press reporter on a tour of his torched, two-story house, much of its furniture reduced to ashes.

Concern about such radicalization has sent Mideast governments scrambling into action.

After years of often turning a blind eye to jihadists taking up arms abroad, Saudi Arabia is enacting new laws and backing a campaign to stop its citizens from joining Syria’s civil war. The intention is to send a clear message that those who defy the law are to fight to the death and are not welcome back.

The move, in part, reflects pressure from Saudi ally the U.S., which wants to see the overthrow of Assad but is alarmed by the rising influence of hard-line foreign jihadists — many of them linked to al-Qaida — among the rebels.

Many Saudis have been easy recruitment targets for jihadist organizations. Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi. The oil-rich kingdom was among several nations that backed the anti-communist mujahedeen forces fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and Saudi fighters have traveled to other Muslim hotspots around the world since then.

More recently, at the urging of Saudi preachers and even judges, thousands of fighters from Saudi Arabia — home to a strict, puritanical strain of Sunni Islam — have joined the 3-year-old uprising against Assad, whose government is dominated by members of his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Saudi officials said fewer than 3,000 Saudis are believed to be fighting in Syria, but analysts and other estimates put the figure as high as 15,000.

While Saudi Arabia continues to support opposition groups in Syria with weapons and other aid, King Abdullah issued a decree in the past month: Any citizen who fights abroad faces three to 20 years in prison. And anyone who incites people to join foreign wars can get five to 30 years.

“The Saudis are very much concerned about a repeat of the 2004 jihadist insurgency inside the kingdom, led at the time by Osama Bin Laden,” said analyst Bilal Saab, referring to a wave of militant attacks inside the country.

“It took time and a considerable amount of resources to counter the insurgency then. If it were to happen again in today’s regional environment where radicalization is on the increase, Saudi counterterrorism efforts will face even more formidable challenges,” added Saab, a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

History is rife with examples of militants returning home from wars with radical intentions.

Read more 

 

Foes Suspect Hizballah in Beirut Car Bombing

Iran & Syria Accuse Israel in Beirut Suicide Bombings

Lebanon-Bombing-AP-414x350By Joseph Klein:

Two back-to-back suicide bombings on November 19th in the vicinity of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Beirut, Lebanon killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 140. Iranian cultural attaché, Ebrahim Ansari, reportedly died from his wounds. An al-Qaida-linked Sunni group known as the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. It threatened more attacks unless Iran withdraws its forces from Syria where Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have been providing military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Iranian embassy appears to have been the main target of the attacks. One blast occurred near the main entrance of the Iranian embassy. The other went off in front of the Iranian ambassador’s residence.

The United Nations Security Council issued a press statement strongly condemning the terrorist attacks, reaffirming its view “that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

Iran and Syria were quick to point the finger at Israel as bearing the primary responsibility for the suicide bombings. They both believe that Israel has taken sides with Sunni Arab states against the Shiites in the proxy war raging in Syria and extending into Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah are Shiite. Assad’s Alawite sect derives from Shiite Islam. The jihadist rebels, along with their state sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf nations, are Sunnis.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah previewed the theme of Israeli complicity with the Sunnis against the Shiites last week: “It is regrettable that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is the spokesman for some Arab countries. These countries reject any political solution that would stop the bloodbath and destruction in Syria. They also strongly oppose any accord between Iran and the countries of the world,” alluding to Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s strong opposition to a nuclear deal they see as unduly favorable to Iran.

The suicide bombings in the vicinity of the Iranian embassy fit into this same Israeli-Sunni anti-Shiite conspiracy theory. As explained in a November 19, 2013Foreign Policy article, the Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah all see Israel’s guiding hand “behind the scenes” while the Gulf petrol-funded Sunni terrorists do the dirty work.

Read more at Front Page

 

Inside Israel’s Preparation for the Next Hizballah Conflict

by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
July 17, 2013

Troubling Times for Once Mighty Hizballah

813_largeby Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
March 27, 2013

Obama Gives Hezbollah 200 Armored Personnel Carriers

Lebanon_M113_30112006_news_001-450x259By  in Front Page

It’s only fair that with the Muslim Brotherhood getting 200 Abrams tanks, Hezbollah should get 200 armored personnel carriers.  While tragically there was no money available to provide security for the US mission in Benghazi, there’s always room for giving billion dollar weapons packages to the terrorists who attack US embassies.

In 1983, Hezbollah carried out the suicide car bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut killing 63 people, including US soldiers, and wounding 120. The suicide vehicle of choice was a delivery van. But now Hezbollah will be able to attack the next US embassy in style with the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier.

When Hezbollah overturned the Lebanese government and replaced it with a coalition dominated by the Shiite terrorist group, backed by Iran, there were worries that this might prevent Lebanon from receiving US aid.

But those worriers had clearly never met Obama who will never unfairly deprive Islamic terrorists of the weapons that they are entitled to under the code of social justice.

The United States has provided more than $140 million in equipment and assistance to the Lebanese armed forces in the past six months, including six Huey 2 helicopters, a 42-metre coastal security craft, more than 1,000 guns – including grenade launchers – and 38 million rounds of ammunition.

The United States has given 200 armored vehicles to Lebanon, the Lebanese army said… The M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) arrived by ship to Beirut on Sunday, the army said in a statement. A Lebanese security source said the army now had 1,200 APCs.

What possible use could the Lebanese military make of that firepower? It isn’t to fight Hezbollah as Hezbollah is in the government. It isn’t to fight Syria, because even in its present state, the Syrian military would kick Lebanon’s ass, and Lebanon’s military would end up fighting Hezbollah at home if they tried that.

That just leaves one possibility.

“This government is committed to maintaining strong, brotherly ties which bind Lebanon to all Arab countries, without exception,” Prime Minister Mikati said at the Baabda Presidential Palace. “Let us go to work immediately according to the principles… [of] defending Lebanon’s sovereignty and its independence and liberating land that remains under the occupation of the Israeli enemy.”

Israel had already withdrawn entirely from Lebanon, so that just leaves Shebaa Farms and the rest of Israel to “liberate”.

On Monday, House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., criticized the administration for keeping “the aid pipeline flowing” when Hariri’s government fell.

“Now, Hezbollah and its cohorts will control the Lebanese government and likely benefit from the years of U.S. assistance, including to the Lebanese military. We cannot undo past mistakes, but we can learn from them and safeguard taxpayer dollars going forward,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “The U.S. should immediately cut off assistance to the Lebanese government as long as any violent extremist group designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations participates in it.”

That was last year. Instead Obama has given them even more assistance. If they just found a way to bring Al Qaeda into the government, they would probably get their own stealth bombers.

Hezbollah assassinates Colonel Wissam El Hassan

Col. Wissam al-Hasan, head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch is seen during a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon.
Credits: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star

By Kerry Patton for the Examiner:

Lebanon’s Internal Security Force (ISF) took a devastating blow earlier today as one of its key leaders was assassinated. Wissam El Hassan, a top official in charge of the ISF intelligence collection unit was killed along with at least 7 others.

In close proximity of Lebanon’s Phalange Party headquarters, a large vehicle born improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated in the predominantly Christian district of Beirut known as Achrafieh.

Colonel Wissam El Hassan was transported to the Hotel Dieu de France Hospital recently. Upon his arrival, medical staff was quick to declare El Hassan as deceased. His passing was declared on Lebanese national television.

El Hassan, a pro-Harriri/Saudi backed official, arrested many pro-Syrian activists which included the arrest of Lebanon Government Minister Michel Samaha– a personal friend of Syrian President Bachar el Assad.

It is strongly believed after close analysis based on the type of tactic, location, and target, this incident was not orchestrated by Al Qaeda rather its Shiite rival Hezbollah–with possible cooperation that includes Syrian assets.

The victim, Wissam El Hassan, was a long-time target. He uncovered Syrian car bombs approximately one month ago put into Christian areas to foment an already tense crisis throughout the Levant.

The assassination could be construed as a message to the US and our allies in Lebanon.

The FBI created a crime lab within Lebanon’s police force as a means to promote and assist relations between the US and Lebanon. In many ways, the initiative could be observed as an “international intelligence friendship building” experiment. The Lebanese police unit created by Colonel Wisam El Hassan was considered very close to the US Intelligence Community.

Most efforts today by Lebanese Army Intelligence focuses on eying one Shiite Lebanese General in helping Hezbollah for this blast–General Jamil Al Sayed–previous director of Lebanon’s Surete Generale Agency.

General Jamil Al Sayed (Shiite) was Colonel Wismam el Hasan’s (Sunni) personal rival. The Surete Generale is controlled by the Shiites today in Lebanon while the Police are controlled by the Sunnis.

According to one source close to Lebanese Army Intelligence, Al Sayed has a hand in the assassination of Colonel Hassan.

The question is, would anyone dare arrest  Al Sayed or at least question him under these circumstances? Answering such a question can only be answered with an obvious no. As long as Hezbollah dominates and rules the ground in Lebanon, General Jamil Al Sayed is untouchable.

Hezbollah will likely never come forward claiming responsibility for Colonel Hassan’s death as they rarely come forward claiming the responsibility of anyone’s death. With a little deductive reasoning based on key facts, its pretty obvious who killed the Colonel–Hezbollah.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors (scheduled release Dec, 2012.). You can follow him on Facebook or at kerry-patton.com.

Major terror attack unfolds in Lebanon

Blast site in Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon Credits:
Yorgo El Bittar

By Kerry Patton for the Examiner:

Editors Note: This is breaking news and updates will be revealed as more details come forward.

A major terrorist attack unfolded in the heavily populated Christian district in Beirut, Lebanon known as Achrafieh. According to numerous social media feeds predominantly coming out of Twitter and Facebook, no terrorist organization has claimed responsibility at this time.

So far, the numbers of persons killed remains unknown. Many persons have been severely injured. For individuals near Hotel Dieu, a field trauma site has been established and medical teams are searching for persons to donate blood.

Chatter is filling the internet with mixed reports. Hezbollah, a terrorist proxy for Iran, is accusing Al Qaeda for the incident. This is one of the first times the world has heard of Hezbollah pointing a finger at its Sunni counterpart Al Qaeda. Yes, Hezbollah has accused its Sunni rivals in the past of certain incidents but never this fast after an incident and never in a communique that has spread like a wildfire across the globe.

Al Qaeda on the other hand is accusing members founded in the March 14 alliance who hold close ties with Bashir Assad in Syria. Hezbollah is one of those members aligned with the March 14 alliance.Al Qaeda has found its way into Lebanon making serious headway in shifting geo-politics with more Sunni influence.

This explosion and the constant finer pointing could lead to a devastating crisis inside the Middle East. If Al Qaeda and Hezbollah continue to point fingers, the largest terror versus terror war could ensue.

The crisis in Syria makes sense as a center of gravity having influence over this incident. Hezbollah fighters once assisted Assad’s forces. Many of them returned back to Lebanon when Syrian rebels seized certain strongholds. Their withdrawal from Syria could be viewed as a sign of weakness.

Sunni backed militants in Syria oppose the Alawite regime. Assad’s Alawite regime is predominantly backed by Shiites in Iran. The Sunni’s fighting Assad comprises of large pools of Al Qaeda fighters, many of which are foreign fighters from across the Middle East.

Syria is the ultimate Sunni versus Shiite civil war. That war may have just moved into Lebanon.

Updates will continue as more details unfold.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors (scheduled release Dec, 2012.). You can follow him on Facebook or at kerry-patton.com.