BEIRUT: A military judge is expected to issue arrest warrants in absentia Friday against a Syrian intelligence officer and another Syrian man in connection with last month’s deadly twin bombings in Tripoli, judicial sources said Thursday.
Separately, Tripoli’s Muslim Ulama Association spurned a call for dialogue by Sheikh Hashem Minqara, a pro-Assad Islamist preacher released Wednesday after being held on charges of withholding information about the Aug. 23 attacks, which killed 47 people and wounded over 500.
Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda is expected to issue arrest warrants against Capt. Mohammad Ali Ali, a Syrian intelligence officer, and Khodr Lutfi al-Airouni, both of whom are suspected of involvement in the bombings, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
Abu Ghayda issued two arrest warrants Monday against two other suspects, Sheikh Ahmad Gharib and informant Mustafa Houri, for their involvement in the attacks.
Gharib and Houri, as well as the two Syrians still at large, were charged last week with carrying out the bombings outside two mosques in Tripoli.
Gharib and Houri were charged with tasking the two Syrians to set up a “monitoring and planning cell to carry out terrorist acts in Lebanon.” The two Syrians were charged with rigging two cars with explosives and placing them, with the help of other individuals, outside Tripoli’s Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam Mosques.
Minqara, the head of a pro-Assad Islamist group, was suspected of withholding information about the cell’s terrorist activities.
However, the Military Court of Cassation Wednesday ordered Minqara’s release, overriding a request by Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr, who sought the continued detention of the Islamist preacher.
Shortly after his release, Minqara called for dialogue among religious leaders to prevent further bloodshed.
He declared his innocence of the charge against him, saying he would not have withheld information on a potential bomb plot from the authorities.
Sunni religious figures in Tripoli, who strongly support the uprising against Alawite Syrian President Bashar Assad, rejected Minqara’s call.
“We don’t sit with killers. The mufti of the Syrian Republic, Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, is the one who is legitimizing the killings carried out by Bashar Assad,” Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, the imam of Al-Salam Mosque, said in a statement commenting on Minqara’s call for dialogue.
Baroudi, also a member of the Muslim Ulama Association, said he and his colleagues did not want to accuse Minqara of involvement in the bombings “because we don’t have evidence,” but urged him to drop his support for Syria and Iran.
“We want him to disavow the Syrian regime, the Iranian regime and Iran’s party in Lebanon and return to his arena,” Baroudi said, in a clear reference to Hezbollah.
Baroudi lashed out at Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, accusing him of being “an accomplice in the crime of defending Bashar Assad and killing children in Syria.”
Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to aid Assad’s forces in the war against armed groups seeking to topple the regime.
Sheikh Nabil Rohayyem, another member of the Muslim Ulama Association, said he was convinced of Minqara’s innocence.
“I never rush to judge anyone. Through my knowledge of Sheikh Hisham [Minqara], I know that he wouldn’t get involved in anything related to [violence],” he said.