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Kahwagi inspects security progress in Tripoli

Lebanese Army Chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi speaks in front of soldiers in Tripoli, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)

TRIPOLI/BEIRUT: Lebanese Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said the military would carry on with its security plan in Tripoli until stability was entirely restored, as Army units continued their raids to arrest wanted individuals Thursday.

“I urge you to double your efforts in anticipation of upcoming challenges,” Kahwagi told his soldiers during a visit to several military units stationed in Tripoli, weeks after a security plan succeeded in partially restoring law and order to the city.

Hours before Kahwagi arrived, a number of stun grenades exploded in several neighborhoods, including the Abu Ali roundabout, the neighborhoods of Zaharieh, Al-Tall and outside the Shaheen Hospital.

Soldiers pursued the perpetrators, who fled on a motorcycle.

Kahwagi toured several neighborhoods in Tripoli, inspecting military units and holding talks with officers.

The Army-led security plan, launched April 1, sparked controversy as some Tripoli residents protested the raids, claiming the Army was only arresting Sunnis.

The military has made dozens of arrests after judicial warrants were issued against several militia commanders and gunmen involved in the fighting between Alawite supporters of President Bashar Assad and Sunni residents sympathetic to the Syrian uprising.

The Army conducted another series of raids Thursday.

Meanwhile, Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged Suleiman al-Ali, a militia commander from Jabal Mohsen, along with 23 others from the Alawite-majority neighborhood, with belonging to an armed group and taking part in the clashes.

Saqr also charged 25 suspects from Bab al-Tabbaneh of forming an armed group, carrying out terrorist attacks and damaging private and public properties.

Saqr has issued over 100 warrants for the arrest of suspects involved in the clashes and other security incidents in the northern Akkar region.

The Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch also set up checkpoints in several areas of Tripoli Thursday and conducted patrols, confiscating unlicensed motorcycles and cars, auditing certified papers and arresting suspects.

The Lebanese Army also intervened in the Wadi Nahle area in the Beddawi neighborhood following a private dispute. Two individuals, identified as Abu Khaldoun Kour and Omar Sleiman were both shot and wounded in the process.

Separately, Military Investigative Judge Fadi Sawwan sign warrants for Qossay Moussa, a Lebanese national who hails from the northern border region of Wadi Khaled, and Hussein Berri, a stateless man residing in Lebanon.

Sawwan accused the two men of belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda spinoff group.

The suspects were also accused of plotting terrorist acts and trying to kill Army soldiers in Wadi Khaled.

Meanwhile, the Army arrested 10 Syrian nationals in the northeastern town of Arsal, at the Wadi Hamayyed checkpoint, after they entered Lebanon with forged papers. They were referred for investigation.

Separately, the Lebanese Army arrested late Thursday a Syrian man in Arsal who had an explosives belt weighing 5 kilograms, media reports said. The man was said to be holding other Syrians hostage in Arsal and demanding ransom for their release.

Also Thursday, Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda indicted six individuals for forming an armed group with the intention of carrying out terrorist acts in a Daraya case, according to judicial sources.

The case relates to the accidental detonation of a homemade bomb last August in the small mountain town in the region of Iqlim al-Kharroub in the Chouf claimed the lives of Egyptian brothers Ahmad and Abdul-Latif Dakhakhni.

Abu Ghayda indicted Ahmad Dakhakhni, Syrian nationals Omar and Ammar Naqshabandi, Palestinian Mohammad al-Tahesh, and Lebanese Samer Fawwaz and Bassam Kiwan, recommending a sentence of 20 years hard labor. They were referred to the military court for trial.

According to the indictment, Dakhakhni was a sheikh who took Shariah classes at Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He was knowledgeable in military matters as he had been a soldier in the Egyptian army, and he fought in the Iraq war with a group called Fedayeen Saddam.

Dakhakhni was living in Daraya with his wife and sons Abdul-Latif and Mohammad and teaching religion classes for students, including his sons.

Dakhakhni “would teach his students about what the Sunnis were being subjected to in Syria and the necessity of advocacy,” the statement said.

“He attacked Hezbollah after its involvement in the war with the Syrian regime, especially after the fall of Qusair, and his sons tried to enter Syria to fight with the opposition, but Syrian General Security prevented them from entering after Dakhakhni’s students formed a group vowing jihad for the sake of God,” it added.

Dakhakhni called on the group to fight Hezbollah and its affiliated Resistance Brigades should they enter Iqlim al-Kharroub but warned it not to cooperate with Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir, as the latter was more interested in attacking the Lebanese Army than Hezbollah.

According to the indictment, Abdul-Latif Dakhakhni bought several firecrackers and emptied their contents in an attempt to manufacture an explosive device, which accidentally exploded, also wounding Omar Naqshabandi.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 25, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Lebanese Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said the military would carry on with its security plan in Tripoli until stability was entirely restored, as Army units continued their raids to arrest wanted individuals Thursday.

Kahwagi toured several neighborhoods in Tripoli, inspecting military units and holding talks with officers.

The Lebanese Army also intervened in the Wadi Nahle area in the Beddawi neighborhood following a private dispute.

The suspects were also accused of plotting terrorist acts and trying to kill Army soldiers in Wadi Khaled.

Meanwhile, the Army arrested 10 Syrian nationals in the northeastern town of Arsal, at the Wadi Hamayyed checkpoint, after they entered Lebanon with forged papers.

Separately, the Lebanese Army arrested late Thursday a Syrian man in Arsal who had an explosives belt weighing 5 kilograms, media reports said.

Dakhakhni called on the group to fight Hezbollah and its affiliated Resistance Brigades should they enter Iqlim al-Kharroub but warned it not to cooperate with Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir, as the latter was more interested in attacking the Lebanese Army than Hezbollah.


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