BEIRUT: A suspect in custody over last week’s deadly car bombings in north Lebanon has confessed that Syrian intelligence was behind the attacks, a security source said Tuesday, and police released a sketch of a man also wanted in the case.
Sheikh Ahmad Gharib, one of two suspects being interrogated in the Aug. 23 car bombs outside the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques in Tripoli, north Lebanon, confessed that the explosions were “directly planned by Syrian intelligence,” the source said.
Gharib, after several hours of interrogation, also said he had prior knowledge of the attacks and their planning, the source added.
At least 47 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in the car bombings outside the mosques in Tripoli, a city that has been the scene of frequent violence linked to the crisis in Syria.
Gharib’s arrest Saturday was due to his appearance in a surveillance video taken near Al-Salam Mosque at the time of the blast. Police are also questioning Sheikh Abdel-Razzak Hammoud in the case.
The period of their detention was extended Monday by two days after the two gave conflicting testimonies.
Also Tuesday, police released a sketch of another suspect wanted over the Tripoli blasts, the latest in a series of car bombings in Lebanon that have escalated security fears in the country.
The police sketch shows a man with a short beard in religious clothing.
The man, according to the Internal Security Forces, is suspected of placing the rigged vehicle outside the Al-Taqwa Mosque.
The police urged citizens to provide authorities with any information about the suspect and his location by calling the hotline 1788, adding that informants would remain anonymous.
Investigations into the explosions outside the Taqwa and Salam mosques continued Tuesday under the supervision of the military justice department.
According to the security source, investigators are hopeful they will be able to obtain further information about the vehicles used in the attacks, including where they were rigged and the parties responsible for detonating them.
On Monday, a judicial source said investigators managed to identify the make of the vehicle used near the Al-Salam Mosque - a four wheel drive Ford - but said they had yet to confirm whether the vehicle outside the Al-Taqwa Mosque was a GMC or Renault 18.
The security source said video footage from cameras installed near the mosques where the car bombs detonated is still being analyzed.