BEIRUT: The terrorist cell arrested by the Army was planning to assassinate the head of General Security in north Lebanon, Lt. Col. Khattar Nassereddine, a security source said.
Describing Nassereddine as close to General Security Director General Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim , the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star that the five-member cell blamed the official for the arrest of “many young Muslims in the northern city of Tripoli.”
The suspects accuse the security chief of preparing reports for Lebanese Army intelligence about the activities of Muslim youths in Tripoli, the source said.
Nassereddine was also behind the controversial, brief arrest of Islamist Shadi Mawlawi in 2012.
According to the source, the suspects accuse the security agency of oppressing Sunni youths and treating them differently than other groups in the city.
Earlier in the day, the Army said that it had arrested five members of a terrorist cell planning to assassinate a senior security officer in north Lebanon.
A military statement said Lebanese Army Intelligence arrested the “terrorist cell” in Qalamoun, 5 kilometers south of the northern city of Tripoli.
The Army, however, did not say when the cell, which was referred Wednesday to the judiciary, was arrested.
The statement identified the detainees as Wassim Ahmad al-Qass, Wissam Ahmad al-Qass, Danny Ahmad al-Qass, Amjad Nouhad al-Khatib and Nabil Kamel Baida.
A security source told The Daily Star that Baida, 40, who hails from Qalamoun, is wanted by Lebanese authorities on multiple arrest warrants.
The Army said the military was still pursuing the remaining cell members.
The security source said two of the five members were college students: one studying medicine and the other engineering in Tripoli.
The arrest came hours after Lebanese authorities said they have arrested six members of a criminal cell, including a university professor and two students, in Tripoli.
Security sources told The Daily Star that the cell, whose members have warrants out for their arrest, had been under surveillance.
They said the Lebanese Army's Counterterrorism Bureau made the arrests after raiding an apartment in the Tripoli neighborhood of Zahrieh late Tuesday.
The suspects include Wiam Mustafa, a 28-year-old professor at Lebanese French University (ULF) in the northern province of Koura, as well as Bilal al-Mustafa, an 18-year-old vocational student, and Abdul-Rahman al-Sayyed, a 23-year-old civil engineering student.
Separately, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Beshara Rai made several phone calls to the commanders of General Security, Internal Security Forces and State Security, offering condolences for the martyrs who have fallen in the recent terrorist acts before discussing the security situation overwhelming the country.
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel echoed similar remarks as other ministers earlier this week, saying the security situation remained under control.
"As a defense minister, I can say that the situation is under control and there is no need for concern or fears," Moqbel said after holding talks with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh.
He said the two discussed the security in the country, primarily the need to strengthen the military and security forces to better address spillover from regional turmoil.