BEIRUT: The Future parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri slammed Tuesday Hezbollah’s security measures, describing them as militia-like practices, while the Internal Security Forces arrested an alleged member of a car-bombing ring.
“The militia-like security measures that Hezbollah began implementing in the southern suburbs and some areas in the south and the Bekaa [Valley] under the pretext of combating terrorist acts are unacceptable measures,” the bloc said in a statement after its weekly meeting chaired by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
“It should halt [these measures] because it reminds [the Lebanese] of a past experiences, when self-imposed security measures were adopted, which led to demographic divisions among the Lebanese. These measures have been unsuccessful for the Lebanese people in all the phases [of Lebanese history] and they oppose returning to it,” added the bloc, which met at Hariri’s downtown residence.
Hezbollah beefed up its security measures in Beirut’s southern suburbs, the south and the Bekaa Valley after a car bomb attack in the neighborhood of Ruwaiss killed 30 people last week and wounded scores more. The party erected checkpoints and its members inspected cars entering neighborhoods, resulting in traffic congestion.
“This amounts to an aggression against the state, legitimacy and the people. Thus, Hezbollah should leave the issue of security measures to the state’s security bodies. If things continue in this way, the suburbs and some areas [risk] becoming closed ghettos,” the bloc said.
Eyewitnesses said Tuesday the Lebanese Army started erecting checkpoints at all of the entrances to the southern suburbs to maintain security and stability. The Army’s media unit was not reachable for comment.
Members of the Future bloc observed a minute of silence at the beginning of the meeting in honor of the victims of the explosion. The bloc said it “denounces in the strongest possible terms this crime committed by terrorists who targeted the innocent unarmed people of the southern suburbs.”
It called on relevant judicial and security bodies to intensify investigations to uncover the assailants and bring them to justice.
The bloc hailed efforts made by state security bodies to arrest the perpetrators.
“Only these bodies are responsible for fulfilling this role. They enjoy the full political and popular support to preserve the security of people,” the bloc’s statement said.
The bloc called on authorities to support security bodies and protect them from intervention by politicians and campaigns that target them.
The bloc held Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and his party responsible for the deteriorating security, economic and political situation in the country, which it said resulted from Hezbollah’s reckless decision to intervene militarily in the Syrian war.
Meanwhile, the Internal Security Forces Information Branch arrested a member of a car-bombing ring, security sources told The Daily Star.
The sources, who requested anonymity, said the detainee was identified by his initials A.A.
The detainee is a member of a car-bombing ring which was uncovered by General Security over the weekend. The General Directorate of the security institution said Monday that it had confiscated an Audi vehicle containing 250 kilograms of explosives in Naameh, south of Beirut.
The General Security said that three suspects – identified by their initials as Lebanese T.B.T. and Palestinians A.H.S. and K.H.S – had already been arrested for alleged involvement in the case.
The General Security identified two other suspects as 30-year-old Lebanese Mohammad Qassem al-Ahmad who is a resident of Haret Naameh and Saeed Mohammad Bahri, 28, a resident of Dohat Aramoun.
For his part, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said it was possible that bomb attacks would target Lebanese areas outside the southern suburbs in the future.
“Everything is possible as long as the mastermind of [such attacks] is not in Lebanon and does not care about any group, what is important to [this mastermind] is that a civil war erupts [in Lebanon],” Aoun told reporters after chairing his bloc’s weekly meeting at his Rabieh residence.
“Thus, it is possible that they will orchestrate attacks in any area,” he said.