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Filed under: Middle East — Rick Moran @ 5:25 am

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

Shocking information has come to light about the al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group Fatah al-Islam who have been battling the Lebanese army inside the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared for nearly 2 months. Ahmed Merie, a Lebanese citizen, testified before a military magistrate that he was a “liaison” between the terrorist group’s leader Shaker Abssi and Syria’s head of intelligence, General Asef Shawkat. Shawkat, a primary suspect in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is President Bashar Assad’s brother in law and considered the second most powerful man in Syria.

The report appeared in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar.

Merie was arrested in a a Beirut hotel along with his brother Mohammad several weeks ago. His testimony also included some other eye openers:

* Shawkat supplied a bomb maker to the terrorist group who taught them how to make explosive devices. Plans were afoot to bomb several targets including booby-trapped car attacks against several targets in Lebanon, two Beirut hotels frequented by personnel of the United Nations Interim, Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as well as some embassies and U.N. offices. Merie also testified that he got the bomb maker out of Lebanon and back to Syria.

* Merie played a role in smuggling Iraqi, Tunisian and Saudi “jihadists” to Lebanon via Syria. One of the Saudis, Abdul Rahman al-Yahya, who goes by the code name of Abu Talha, was the chief financial backer of Fatah al-Islam, keeping Merie supplied with plenty of cash as he moved around Lebanon.

* Merie gave up the names of four Fatah al-Islam terrorists responsible for gunning down Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel last November. This is the first solid connection between the killing of Gemayel and the Syrians.

* Shawkat also supplied the group “significant support,” the nature of which was not disclosed. There has been some evidence - the Lebanese navy interception of fighters trying to make their way into Nahr al-Bared via the sea in small boats - that Syria has been attempting to resupply Fatah al-Islam during their battle with the Lebanese army.

The connection betwen Syria and Fatah al-Islam has been suspected from the beginning. Their leader, Shaker Abssi, spent three years in Syrian prison, serving time for planning terrorist attacks in that country. He was suddenly released in late 2006 and made his way immediately to northern Lebanon where he set up shop in Nahr al-Bared. Seemingly out of nowhere, in a matter of months he had recruited more than 300 fighters - many of them from foreign countries - and was training them at a compound in the refugee camp.

Merie’s testimony fills in some of the gaps about how the terrorist group got organized and supplied so quickly. Fatah al-Islam was deliberately planted in Lebanon to stir up trouble for the government of Prime Minister Siniora. But to what end?

Frequent American Thinker contributor and noted Middle East expert Dr. Walid Phares had the answer last May. His dire predictions about this summer’s trouble in Lebanon are starting to come true:

Today’s clashes between the al Qaeda linked terror network and the Lebanese Army are a prelude to terror preparations aimed at crumbling the Cedars Revolution, both Government and civil society this summer. It is a move by the Assad regime to weaken the cabinet and the army in preparation for a greater offensive later on by Hizbollah on another front. In short the Damascus-Tehran strategic planners have unleashed this “local” al Qaeda group in Tripoli to drag the Lebanese cabinet in side battles, deflecting its attention from the two main events, highly threatening to Assad: One is the forthcoming UN formed Tribunal in the assassination case of Rafiq Hariri. The second is the pending deployment of UN units on the Lebanese-Syrian borders. Both developments can isolate the Syrian regime. Thus, the Fatah al Islam attacks can be perceived as part of a preemptive strategy by the Tehran-Damascus axis.

The al-Qaeda connection with Fatah al-Islam goes beyond Abssi being inspired by Osama Bin Laden’s idea of jihad. Abssi was condemned to death in absentia for his role in carrying out the murder of US envoy in Jordan Laurence Foley. He worked closely with the mastermind of that assassination, the now decased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former leader of al-Qadea in Iraq.

And Phares’ analysis proved extremely prescient in his pointing to the deployment of UNIFIL on the border between Syria and Lebanon as a red line for Assad. In the United Nations today, the US told the Security Council that there was “clear evidence” of Syrian arms transfers across the border. The UN appointed team that assessed border security between Syria and Lebanon stated flatly that security was too lax to prevent arms smuggling.

In order to intimidate UNIFIL, there have been two attacks on the peacekeepers now - including the detonation of a roadside bomb today in which no one was hurt - that are also designed to set up a “second front” against the Siniora government in southern Lebanon in an attempt to further destabilize the country. (Six peacekeepers were killed last month in car bomb attack.) The recipients of these arms are not only Hezb’allah but also the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFFLP-GC). Their Commander, Ahmad Jabril, is closely allied with Syria and has operated from Syrian territory for years. Jabril’s group is being reinforced in order to possibly start trouble in some of the Palestinian refugee camps on the border between Syria and Lebanon as well as in the eastern Bekaa valley where the PFFLP-GC has made common cause with other extremist groups.

North, south, and east - Lebanon is being squeezed by Assad and his Iranian backers. Given that the political standoff between the Hezb’allah led opposition and the majority shows no signs of easing, it could very well be that the pressure being exerted by Assad on his tiny neighbor is reaching some kind of crescendo that has the potential to explode at any time.


  1. What makes you believe that the testimony of this Ahmed Merie is valid?

    Isn’t it likely that they just tortured him to produce convenient “intelligence”?

    It is a general rule for sober observers not to believe such coerced witnesses and their coerced testimonies, Rick Moran.

    Indeed, it is not likely that Syria is behind Fatah al-Islam.

    Fatah al-Islam represents a Sunni extremism that does not dwell well with the Syrian Baathist and secular rulers.
    And it’s Fatah al-Islam’s Salafi ideology that will render them unwilling and incapable to accept Syrian (= heretic) backing, even if it were offered.

    Would it be possible today (!) that the USA starts to cooperate with AlQaida to fight Iran? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” - that rule does often, but not always apply.
    Seen with Iranian eyes, f.e., USA and AlQaida do cooperate …
    Silly, for sure - as silly as to assume an alliance of AlQaida and Syria or AlQaida and Iran.

    As for the (!): You all know that the USA (Reagan administration) supported a certain Osama binLaden at the beginning of his career …
    I believe US Conservatives are right and authentic when they claim today (!): We can rule out such a cooperation for now or the future.

    They will always merge their enemies into ONE, but any psychology of transforming an enemy like AlQaida into a friend … is not viable.
    And that also applies to AlQaida and AlQaida-like groups: They will never ally with the USA, or Israel.

    Although, I think, in Iraq, in this desperate Sunni fight for existence against a huge Shiite majority empowered by the Americans and Iranians, there may be quite some cooperation between Baathist and Salafi resistance fighters. Both are Sunni.

    In Lebanon’s lethal mosaic, it is more likely that Fatah al-Islam got, at first, some support by the Siniora government –until it ran amok. The Sunnites in Lebanon may have liked the idea of a counterforce against Shiite Hesbollah. But they may have miscalculated, and Fatah al-Islam began to play their own murderous and self-destructive game.

    That is speculation, I admit. But more likely than the Syria Connection.

    Comment by leo — 7/19/2007 @ 4:49 pm

  2. I don’t know what to say to that kind of stupidity.

    I think I’ll just let it go and let others marvel at your ignorance.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 7/19/2007 @ 4:52 pm

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  4. As it seems,
    Rick Moran,
    you are neither capable nor willing to argue with a liberal, when it comes to direct confrontation.
    You can argue as long you can have your monologue, and you can rant, but dialogue … that is another thing.

    You call me ignorant and stupid. Well …
    I suppose I know about as much as you concerning Lebanon.
    We see things from different angles, but that should result in interesting debate, not in ignoring each other.

    So, come on, show us your superior knowledge and your informed interpretation of events in Lebanon - and tell your audience why my view of Lebanese politics is so “ignorant” adn “stupid”.
    (And do you really believe that coerced confessions are reliable and should be taken by the word, as in the case of Merie?)

    A blogger must not cut and run when there approaches a real challenge.
    You disappoint your own fans, Rick Moran, when you prove to be incapable of refuting my arguments.

    Comment by leo — 7/20/2007 @ 6:50 am

  5. Where’s your evidence Merie was tortured or coerced? You don’t have a shred of proof that this happened and yet you posit it as if its the gospel truth?

    That’s idiotic. And does the UN investigator Serge Brammertz count when he says Syria is responsible for Hariri’s killings as well as the other political murders there.

    Gee. He only has 40,000 pages of evidence and dozens of witnesses. Did he torture those people? Did he coerce them?

    Merie is simply confirming what everyone in the world (except Syrian apologists like you) believe: that Assad is murdering his opponents in Lebanon and stirring up trouble so that he can move back in and milk the country for all its worth.

    Time for a reality check. And calling you an idiot and ignorant is less than you deserve. It’s not name calling if it fits.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 7/20/2007 @ 6:55 am

  6. Thanks for the compliments, Rick Moran.

    As for Syria and the Hariri murder: In a previous post I wrote, that it is likely for me, too, that Syria was behind the assissination.
    As for the other murders of prominent Lebanese opponents I also assume that Syria is responsible for them.

    I think the Syrian regime is (1) reckless enough to act like this, it is (2) in a favourable position to do so due to the repercussions of the Iraq occupation war, and I think (3) the regime might interpret their interests in a way that killing some prominent Anti-Syrians of Lebanon helps them to increase Syrian standing in Lebanon on the medium run.

    But our MERIE DISPUTE was not about who killed Hariri. It was about Fatah al-Islam.


    You identify me with a position I definitely do not hold - and in an earlier post on a different thread I have mentioned my assumption already that Syria was likely behind the Hariri murder!
    Ok, you may not have read it - I have to pardon that.
    But what made you assume reading the post above that I do not attribute the Hariri murder to Syria? - I wrote about Fatah al-Islam!!

    That Fatah al-Islam is sponsored by Syria is nothing but a propaganda claim by the Siniora-coalition, by Israel, by the USA. They all want to put more pressure on Syria - a legitimate aim, sure - but I am not writing here as a politician; I am an observer interested in truth, and I don’t like to be fooled. I write here as a German citizen. I am neither a pro-Syrian nor an anti-Syrian propagandist.

    It is simply not likely that Syria is behind Fatah al-Islam, for the reasons I stated in the previous post.

    AND YOU SHOULD ADDRESS THESE REASONS, Rick Moran - as you claim these my reflections are stupid and ignorant. (Your words!!)

    Now come on! You have to show your quality as a right wing macho blogger who can hit hard on liberal idiots like me!
    So, tell me
    your arguments about Fatah al-Islam = why I cannot be right with my interpretation, and why to assess the case in my way is simply ignorant and stupid.

    It is obvious from what you wrote that Merie’s testimony was coerced:
    “Ahmed Merie, a Lebanese citizen, testified before a military magistrate that he was a “liaison” between the terrorist group’s leader Shaker Abssi and Syria’s head of intelligence, General Asef Shawkat. …
    Merie was arrested in a a Beirut hotel along with his brother Mohammad several weeks ago. …”

    Such a man, arrested by his enemy, will just present the truth and nothing but the truth about everything of this case?? - We are not in an American movie, Rick Moran!

    Come on, you know that in such cases any convenient testimony is coerced and therefore has to be dismissed out of hand. We all know the methods how to make people tell us exactly what we want them to tell us …

    Of course Merie’s interrogators will not tell us that they have tortured the man to get this convenient testimony. And with my use of the word “coerced” I left it open how exactly Merie was made to say the things he said.

    In this issue, too, Rick Moran, I do not think that my view is simply ignorant or stupid. It may be disputed, ok, but you did not really try to argue, you just yelled. And commented with insults:

    ” .. calling you an idiot and ignorant is less than you deserve. It’s not name calling if it fits.”

    Whenever you point with such a nasty digital finger on me, you should realize that three of your fingers are pointing on YOU …
    You see these three fingers of yours, Rick Moran?

    Comment by leo — 7/20/2007 @ 3:42 pm

  7. Definition of a conspiracy theorist:
    When he hears something he agrees with, he is glad the truth is coming out. When he hears something he disagrees with, it must have been the result of torture, coercion, or a lie.

    I stand solidly with Rick Moran and the story of the testimony. I calmly await PROOF of any alternative claims.

    Comment by DevX — 7/21/2007 @ 9:14 pm

  8. The definition you give fits to your statement, DevX!

    In my case, as you see:
    I assume that the Syrian regime is behind the Hariri murder (and the other murders of Lebanese politicians) - although, being against antiSyrian action I should claim that Syria is likely to be innocent.
    You see: I can accept information I do not like.
    Different to you.

    Comment by leo — 7/22/2007 @ 5:06 am

  9. leo said ( if it is siad, please do not take offence )

    Leo, remember that Jesus loves you,even if everybody else thinks you are a idiot.

    Comment by nottoobrite — 7/24/2007 @ 7:38 am

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