BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces celebrated its 153rd anniversary at its headquarters in Ashrafieh Wednesday and simultaneously launched a hash tag in Arabic that means “this is how we started.”
In front of a backdrop of black and white images of ISF members riding horses, answering phones and posing for photos, ISF spokesman Col. Joseph Moussallem addressed a small crowd of journalists, touching on all the major milestones the security force has passed since its establishment in 1861.
“Remember our history serving this country,” said Moussallem, who also recognized the many martyrs of the ISF over the last 153 years.
Many of the old-time photos were tweeted by the ISF’s Twitter account Wednesday under the Arabic hash tag هيك_بلشنا# or “this is how we started” in English.
The ISF is Lebanon’s national police force and is currently headed by Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous. Current Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi was the last general director, before retiring last year.
Initially established in 1861 under Ottoman rule, the ISF has evolved and grown over the last 153 years.
Moussallem listed historical events such as the formation of Greater Lebanon in 1920, World War I & II, and the Lebanese Civil War as landmarks in the force's history. He also spoke about the changes the ISF had gone through since its formation.
“[Today] we have a very active relationship with NGOs [non-governmental organizations],” Moussallem told The Daily Star, adding that the ISF had grown by attempting to integrate with civil society by collaborating with various groups and integrating new information and technology into its practices.
He added that the ISF was learning from other available experiences and resources.
The ISF also staged a march in Dbayyeh Wednesday to commemorate its history.
Before 1861, Lebanese emirs used their armed men to provide security and enforce laws. The ISF was set up with backing from world powers in 1861 following the end of 20 years of sectarian violence in Mount Lebanon between the Druze and Maronite communities.