BEIRUT: The Internal Security Forces collected information that extremist cells were gearing up to attack several targets in Lebanon, Ad-Diyar daily reported Sunday.
Leaked security documents signed by ISF head Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous and obtained by Ad-Diyar revealed that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria was planning attacks against Shiite and Christian villages in the northern Bekaa Valley.
One document dated April 8, 2014, said that six members of ISIS – five Saudis and one Iraqi - were currently operating in the northern Bekaa Valley village of Arsal on the border with Syria and were looking to access the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in south Lebanon using forged IDs.
According to the document, the ages of the cell’s members ranged between 28 and 45 and they operate using forged Palestinian IDs and are preparing for attacks across Lebanon. The document called for cooperation between the ISF and the Lebanese Army to arrest the members of the cell.
Lebanese authorities brushed off as bogus threats voiced by the so-called Free Sunni Brigades in Baalbek, a shadowy group that has been threatening to launch attacks against several targets in Lebanon in messages it broadcast on its Twitter feed.
Last week, the group said it had designated a special group of jihadists to "cleanse the Muslim Bekaa Emirate in particular, and Lebanon in general, from churches." It also urged Sunnis to keep their distances from churches, vowing to destroy all Christian symbols in the region.
While Palestinian sources told The Daily Star that they were not aware that Lebanese authorities had launched a manhunt against a terrorist cell based in Ain al-Hilweh, they highlighted that the 150-strong elite force tasked with maintaining security inside the Ain al-Hilweh would finally deploy on July 8.
But the deployment will not be a smooth one, as the same sources revealed to Ad-Diyar that Islamist factions based in the Taware neighborhood of the camp refuse to accept any patrols by the elite force in the camp and have warned they will prevent the new security squad from entering Taware.
The decision to form the elite force came after several clashes inside the camp between the extremist Fatah al-Islam group and supporters of the Fatah Movement.
In 2007, clashes between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam at the north Lebanon refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared leveled the camp and displaced tens of thousands of families, the majority of which have yet to return to their homes seven years after the conflict ended.