BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army arrested two wanted suspects while raiding several buildings in a Beirut neighborhood Wednesday, in another preemptive strike against the mounting threat of terrorism.
Soldiers deployed heavily in Al-Tariq al-Jadideh and near the Cola roundabout, searching apartments in five buildings in the area, a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
Blindfolded and handcuffed, the two suspects were escorted out of a building in the Fleyfel Street and into a military vehicle. Minutes later, soldiers and Army personnel withdrew and reopened a street they had blocked.
Conflicted reports emerged over the nationality of the two detainees.
Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said the raids were part of a security plan to crack down on terror cells, reassuring the Lebanese that the security situation was “under control.”
Kahwagi made his remarks before joining a security meeting attended by several high-ranking security and judicial officials along with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.
An Army source refused to give any details on the operation.
“This is a security issue par excellence and we will not give any details pending the end of investigation,” the source told The Daily Star, requesting to remain anonymous.
Security services have made several raids in Beirut over the past days in search for terror suspects.
Last week, General Security personnel arrested a Saudi would-be suicide bomber at Duroy Hotel, after his partner blew himself up to evade arrest.
On June 20, the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch arrested a French national at Napoleon Hotel in Beirut who confessed to have been planning to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Lebanon.
The campaign by the security services comes as Lebanon witnessed a renewed wave of Syria-linked bombings late last month.
Speaking after the security meeting at the Grand Serail, Moqbel said the security forces would not be lenient about the crackdown on terrorism in the country.
“They [attendees] stressed that there would be no leniency with any form of terrorism, and they said that this phenomenon was a new trend which the Lebanese will not embrace,” Moqbel said.
“Attendees also stressed that the Army and security services would maintain the highest level of alertness and that coordination between security agencies would continue along with the implementation of all security plans,” he continued.Asked about reports that suicide bombers and rigged cars were operating in Lebanon, Moqbel confirmed that it was “true, hence security services are at their highest levels of readiness.”
He said that security plans would be implemented across Lebanon very soon.
The minister added that authorities were seriously considering the establishment of coordination between security services and Palestinian factions inside refugee camps in Lebanon.
Attendees called on the Lebanese to trust the Army and ISF to thwart any plan that sought to harm civil peace and national unity.
Separately, four cafe-goers were wounded when an unknown assailant on a motorcycle tossed a hand grenade into a coffee shop in the northern city of Tripoli, security sources told The Daily Star.
Authorities suspect that the men were attacked because they were eating during the hours reserved for fasting. Muslims Sunday began observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which they fast from dawn to dusk.
The sources said one of the wounded was in critical condition after the 10:20 a.m. attack at the Badr Abu Makieh Cafe on Abdul-Hamid Karami Street, in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh.