BEIRUT: Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr Monday charged 21 members of a terrorist network with belonging to Al-Qaeda-linked groups, and formally accused suspected mastermind Naim Abbas of involvement in the January bombings in Beirut's southern suburbs.
The network comprises of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians but only four have been detained so far: Lebanese Bakri Mohammad al-Mahmoud, Omar Momtaz, Jomanah Hmayyed and Abbas, a Palestinian.
Shortly after his arrest earlier this month, information from Abbas’ confessions allowed the Army to dismantle a car laden with around 240 kilograms of explosives in a Beirut neighborhood.
Interrogation of Abbas also led to the detention of Hmayyed, who was apprehended while driving a rigged vehicle on the Arsal-Labweh road in east Lebanon along with two other women who were later released without charge.
Saqr accused the network of belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked Abudallah Azzam Brigades and the Nusra Front in Lebanon, in addition to “carrying out terrorist acts by smuggling explosive-rigged vehicles from Syria into Lebanon with the aim of killing citizens, destroying public and private properties and serving a blow to the state's authority and prestige.”
The Brigades and the Lebanese branch of Nusra Front have claimed responsibility for several car bombings in the country, citing Hezbollah’s military role in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.
If convicted, the suspects could face the death penalty.
Saqr referred the case to Military Investigative Judge Riyad Aby Ghayda.
In a separate charge, Saqr accused Abbas of involvement in the two Haret Hreik car bombings on Jan. 2 and Jan. 21 as well as the murder and attempted murder of citizens.
Abbas' case is connected to that of detained preacherSheikh Omar Atrash, who was also charged with having a role in the Beirut attacks. Military Investigative judge Maroun Zkhour Monday issued an arrest warrant for Atrash over his alleged involvement in the twin suicide attacks against the Army in the coastal city of Sidon on Dec. 15, 2013.