BEIRUT: Lebanon charged five people Friday, including one Syrian intelligence officer and two sheikhs, over the twin Tripoli bombings that killed 47 people last week.
Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr filed charges against sheikhs Ahmad Gharib and Hashem Minqara as well as informant Mustafa Houri, a judicial source said.
The source said Saqr charged two Syrians, including an intelligence officer, in absentia. The Syrian suspects were identified as Capt. Mohammad Ali Ali, an officer in Syrian intelligence, and Khodr Lutfi al-Airouni.
Saqr charged Gharib and Houri in his court documents with tasking the two Syrians to set up a “monitoring and planning cell to carry out terrorist acts in Lebanon, particularly in the north, by preparing bombs and booby trapping cars and putting them in specific areas, including religious institutions, with the aim of killing and assassinating political and religious figures.”
The two Syrians were charged with “rigging two cars with explosives and placing them, through the help of other individuals, outside Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam Mosques in Tripoli, which left hundreds killed or wounded.”
At least 47 people were killed and 500 wounded in the twin car bombings last week in front of two mosques.
Minqara, the head of a pro-Assad Islamist group in Lebanon who was detained by police for interrogation Thursday, was charged with withholding information about the Tripoli cell’s terrorist activities.
Gharib is known to be a close associate of Minqara while Houri, who worked with Gharib, tipped off the police about the plot before it occurred. Saqr questioned Houri’s motives in tipping off police and decided to charge him with the same crimes as Gharib. Houri is also known for having close ties to Syrian intelligence, judicial sources said. If convicted, the suspects face the death penalty.
Saqr referred the case to Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda, requesting more investigation and arrest warrants against the five.
Separately, Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr ordered the arrest of two men over their suspected involvement in launching rockets at Israel from south Lebanon. Saqr interrogated the two suspects and referred them to Army Intelligence for further investigation.
On Aug. 22, four rockets aimed at Israel were fired from the Batoulieh Valley near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidieh, southeast of Tyre. None of the projectiles caused any casualties
Earlier this week, several Lebanese and Palestinians suspected of firing a rocket near Baabda Palace on June 20 were arrested, a military source said.