BEIRUT: Extremist terrorist organizations are extending their reach into Europe through Turkey and Greece by way of Lebanon, Lebanese security sources told The Daily Star following a fresh round of bombings in the country.
According to the sources, tracking this new class of terrorist is made more difficult because they operate in groups that are smaller, more obscure and multinational, lacking a single leader, allegiance or central organizing body.
They said a Lebanese security body had recently received reliable information from Western parties about an active, Al-Qaeda-linked group that included one Syrian and two Palestinians. The group recently left Lebanon for Turkey using forged passports with fake names to carry out missions there.
Once the security team had cross-referenced this information with the three names and their work was reviewed by more other security apparatuses, the suspects are thought to have gone to Turkey to meet a Lebanese extremist named Ali M. H. living in Turkey who has become a “guide” to Al-Qaeda in Turkey, Cyprus and Greece.
The sources said that this figure was living in the Aksaray neighborhood of Istanbul and later moved to an area close to the Syrian border. He is wanted by the Lebanese authorities as the suspected mastermind behind the McDonald’s bombing in Beirut in April 2003, in addition to his connections to the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Sirat organization, which is active in Europe.
He reportedly carries several forged passports, including a Brazilian passport under the name Carlos Hussein Jumaa.
The sources said fundamentalist activity between Lebanon, Turkey and Greece was on the rise and spreading toward Europe, requiring increased cooperation between the Lebanese security authorities and the West, especially in light of concerns over potential terror plots targeting Western capitals, in which some sleeper cells are present.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 27, 2014, on page 3.