BEIRUT: Lebanon's top jihadi fugitive Shadi Mawlawi announced on his Twitter account Wednesday that he had left the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.
“Thank God, with whose care, we have escaped the hands of the tyrants and their dogs, and we have pushed away their sights and their hearts,” Mawlawi said in a tweet.
“But let the tyrants and their [partisans] know that we will not let him enjoy peaceful life and security until our brothers and sisters exit prisons and glory comes back to the Sunni people.”
Mawlawi’s tweets came one day after Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Mawlawi “is in the Arsal area with the Nusra Front.”
The top fugitive had been hiding inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in the southern city of Sidon, to which he escaped from Tripoli when the Army launched a security crackdown on jihadis last year.
In Wednesday’s tweets, Mawlawi said he escaped both Tripoli and Ain al-Hilweh “only for the sake of avoiding Muslim bloodshed.”
He described the Lebanese Army as “crusaders,” vowing to continue the battle against Hezbollah and whoever collaborates with it in Lebanon.
As-Safir had published a report Monday saying Mawlawi had fled Ain al-Hilweh to hide with Islamist militants fighting on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal.
Ahmad Abedelhadi, deputy political Hamas leader in Lebanon, also insisted that Mawlawi had left the camp.
“We have received assurances from the camp’s Islamist groups, including Osbat al-Ansar, and from Lebanese security authorities that Mawlawi was no longer in Ain al-Hilweh camp,” he told The Daily Star.
Abdelhadi was commenting after reports emerged Tuesday saying Mawlawi was still inside the camp despite confirmation Sunday that he had left.
The announcement made Sunday by Sheikh Jamal Khattab, spiritual leader of Islamist factions in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh, was the first confirmation that Mawlawi was no longer in the camp.
Militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front are located in the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, where they hold 25 Lebanese servicemen captive. The militants demand that Lebanon releases Islamist prisoners from Roumieh as a condition for the hostages’ release.