BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Town fearful after resident identified as bomber

Residents of Bisarieh pose for a picture, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BISARIEH, Lebanon: Residents of Bisarieh in the southern district of Zahrani fear sectarian tensions might ignite in their town after the Army identified the perpetrator of Bir Hasan suicide bombing as one of their own. “Whoever stands with the takfiri terrorists and serves the Israeli enemy that we have fought and defeated, let them leave us,” Bisarieh resident Ali Mshawrab said.

Bisarieh is populated mostly by Shiites, and the Amal Movement and Hezbollah enjoy wide support. Amal party flags are seen hanging from homes, as are portraits of Speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Amal Movement, fallen fighters from the 1985-88 War of the Camps and those who died during battles with Israel until the latter withdrew from the country in 2000.

The town is also home to hundreds of Palestinian families who work mainly in agriculture and trade, as well as Sunni Lebanese families. Residents of Bisarieh were incensed after two local men, Adnan Moussa Mohammad and Mouin Abu Daher, were implicated in the Iranian Embassy attacks in Beirut last November. Now, they say, history is repeating itself as the Army identified one of the suicide bombers behind last week’s twin attacks against the Iranian Cultural Center in Bir Hasan as Palestinian Nidal al-Mghayar, also a resident of the town.

Many of the Palestinians in the town fear that the second suicide bomber in the twin attack, whose identity is still unknown, was also a resident of the town.

But terrorist acts do not reflect the reality of the village and its residents, Mshawrab said.

“Here we have been one family, Sunni and Shiite, for decades. We even have a village in our town called Yarin al-Jadidah,” he told The Daily Star, referring to the southern border town of Yarin, which was abandoned by a large number of its Sunni residents during the 1970s and 1980s after the Israeli invasion.

“We say whoever stands by terrorism, treason and Israel, let them leave because terrorism affects both Sunnis and Shiites and does not distinguish between Muslim and Christian,” Mshawrab added.

Fadia, a Sunni from the town, echoed Mshawrab’s sentiments.

Driving around the town, she said that terrorism “knows no religion,” and that though Sunnis live on land owned by Shiites, they did not feel threatened.

Following his identification by the Army as one of the Bir Hasan bombers, Mghayer’s family home in Bisarieh was torched last week by anonymous assailants, as were two vehicles owned by family members. The acts prompted the family to seek refuge at a relative’s home nearby.

However, Mghayer’s family supports Hezbollah and had portraits of the party’s secretary-general, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, hanging inside their home.

Resident Mohammad Diab said the home of Mohammad, implicated in the Iranian Embassy bombing, had not been targeted because it was “protected.”

“But things have become more strained now that another suicide bomber has emerged among us. This is saddening, but what was done is done,” Diab said.

A number of unidentified men also torched the car of someone from the al-Khalaf family over the weekend, though their motivation remains unknown.

“We are not afraid of death,” Bisarieh resident Umm Mohammad said.

“Our Sunni brothers should not provide an environment that promotes takfiri terrorism. I ask, how can a father and mother sleep when their child is not home and they don’t know where he is?” she said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 25, 2014, on page 4.

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