BEIRUT: A Syrian identified as Hussameddine Abu Halaq is in the custody of authorities as a suspect in the July car bombing that rocked the southern suburb of Beirut, caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn announced Friday.
A car bombing ripped through Bir al-Abed on July 9, wounding over 50 people, in an attack widely seen as linked to the ongoing crisis in neighboring Syria.
Ghosn said Halaq was arrested by Army Intelligence and had links to others suspected of involvement in the bombing.
According to the statement, a Kia, stolen by force in the Chouf coastal town of Khaldeh, south Beirut the night before the attack, was used in the bombing. The car had been parked at a local cooperative in Bir al-Abed.
Ghosn’s statement also disclosed information on suspects involved in other security-related incidents that have escalated tensions in Lebanon, including two separate attacks on the Army in the east of the country.
According to the statement, a man identified as Hasan Hussein Rayed who was arrested last month confessed that he and nine accomplices were behind an attack on a Lebanese Army checkpoint in Wadi Hmayyed, east Lebanon, which left three soldiers dead.
Rayed named Omar Ahmad Atrash, Sami Ahmad Atrash, Ubaida Mustafa al-Hujeiri, Sameh Breidi and four Syrians as his accomplices.
According to Rayed’s confession, Omar Atrash was the mastermind of the group.
Rayed also confessed to being responsible for two roadside bombs last month that exploded near an Army checkpoint near the city of Hermel.
The statement said Rayed confessed that he and his accomplices had planned for several car bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs and other Lebanese regions.
Ghosn also said that Army Intelligence had strong leads into the twin rocket attacks on Beirut’s southern suburb of Shiyah in May. The defense minister said he was disclosing the sensitive information in the interest of public opinion, in a bid to “to prevent strife” in the country.
He warned that Lebanon was starting to slip into the “grip of terrorism” and urged Lebanese to rally around the military institution and support it in its missions.