BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Confessions lead to more raids in north Lebanon

File - This picture released on Sunday, June 29, 2014, shows seized weapons in Fnaydeq, Akkar. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)

BEIRUT: The Army carried out another raid in the northern village of Fnaydeq Thursday, confiscating explosives in light of confessions made by a terror suspect.

According to an Army statement, Mahmoud Khaled confessed to burying explosives at the Al-Azer farm in the village of Fnaydeq, prompting soldiers to raid the property.

He told interrogators that he used the material to make explosive belts and bombs.

The Army discovered the explosives and handed them to relevant authorities, the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Army troops seized weapons and military equipment from the house of another terror suspect, also under arrest.

The search in Mahmoud Zahraman’s house in Fnaydeq lasted for 90 minutes, and came to follow up on his confessions.

The Army has carried out similar operations in the village over the past few days.

Troops raided a cave in Fnaydeq last week discovering a number of bombs, weapons, CDs, phone cards and cell phones, as well as documents and books that included tutorials about making explosives. The raid came after Khaled, along with Alaa Kanaan, another detainee, confessed.

The Army’s measures are part of a nationwide crackdown on terror cells which has led to the arrest of several suspects.

Three suicide bombings rocked the country in the span of five days late last month.

Wednesday, an Army unit arrested two wanted suspects in the Tariq al-Jadideh neighborhood of Beirut.

Meanwhile, Military Investigative Judge Imad Zein wrapped up the investigation into the terror case against senior Abdullah Azzam Brigades member Jamal Daftardar.

Zein referred the case to Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr to make a recommendation before an indictment is issued.

In the case, Daftardar, along with Palestinian detainee Bilal Kayed, have been accused of attempting to assassinate Lt. Col. Khattar Nassereddine, the head of General Security in north Lebanon.

Kayed was arrested by the Army in April in the border town of Arsal.

June 25, the military said it arrested five members of a terrorist cell planning to assassinate Nassereddine. The five do not include Kayed and Daftardar.

Daftardar, the man once thought to be the next leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has already been charged in connection with two car bombings in the Beirut southern suburb of Haret Hreik Jan. 2 and Jan. 21

Also, Zein requested the death sentence in his indictment against Syrian Samia Sh., a judicial source told The Daily Star. Samia was arrested last month during a drug bust in the northern city of Tripoli. During interrogation, the suspect confessed that she had planned to deliver detonators to a Syrian man in Beirut.

Zein referred the detainee to the military court for trial after issuing an arrest warrant for her.

Separately, three hand grenades were thrown in Tripoli Thursday.

Security sources told The Daily Star that an unknown assailant tossed a grenade inside a café belonging to Bassam Jamd in the Tripoli neighborhood of Qibbeh.

There were no casualties reported from the 4:30 a.m. attack, the source added.

Wednesday, four café-goers were wounded in a similar attack on Abdul-Hamid Karami Street in Tripoli’s Tabbaneh.

Authorities believe the café assaults were a message to coffee shop owners and café-goers for remaining open during daylight hours, when most residents were observing Ramadan.

An hour before the attack in Qibbeh, another grenade targeted a cemetery in Bab al-Raml, causing material damage only.

Two cars – a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz – were damaged in the 2 a.m. attack on Ezzeddine Street in the al-Tal neighborhood, according to the sources.

Separately, Lebanese authorities dismissed threats made by a shadowy militant group against churches in the Bekaa Valley as bogus, a security source told The Daily Star.

The so-called Free Sunni Brigades in Baalbek is nothing more than a group with a Twitter account, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Security forces do not take this group seriously ... but the nationwide security plan [implemented in the spring] provides for reinforcements outside places of worship,” the source added.

Wednesday, the group said on its Twitter feed that it had designated a special group of jihadists to “cleanse the Muslim Bekaa Emirate in particular, and Lebanon in general, from churches.”

It urged Sunnis to keep away from churches, vowing to destroy all Christian symbols in the region.

The Archbishop of the Greek Catholic diocese of Zahle and Ferzol, Issam Darwish, said the threats were not taken seriously but that Bekaa residents should remain cautious.

“Everyone who knows history knows that Christians and Muslims have lived together in peace in this area,” Darwish said.

“The security forces have started taking security measures to protect churches and other Christian places of worship,” he said, referring to the security plan.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 04, 2014, on page 3.

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