Monday August 19, 2013, no145
Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
New Orient Center for Strategic policies
Resistance defends Levant against
Bandar's gangs that are serving Israel
By Ghaleb Kandil
The terrorist attack in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Thursday August 15, which killed 25 people and injured 335, all innocent civilians, bears the mark of the covenant between Israel, the United States and Takfirist and the criminal gang led by Bandar bin Sultan in Arab Mashreq.
The blast targeted ordinary people going about their business, and looks just like the massacres committed by Israeli warplanes during the war in July 2006, while on the ground resistance was inflicting defeats to Israeli forces.
The purpose of this barbaric crime is to break the will of popular resistance, as the murderous raids of Israel during the war. People quickly responded by reaffirming their commitment to the Resistance as cross-community national choice, covering all Lebanese regions. The victims' families reaction immediately after the attack in the southern suburbs is the clearest response. This has also been the case since the massacre of Bir el-Abed, committed by U.S. intelligence to try to break the will of the people revolted against the agreement of May 17, 1983. The southern suburbs resisted and dropped the agreement of shame and humiliation, paving the way for the release of 2000.
The Israeli aggression against Lebanon has taken another form, with the emergence of Bandar gangs. Saudi Arabia behaves today as a regional branch of the US-Israeli- takfirist alliance and Bandar is the leader of this axis in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The Wahhabi kingdom has bought the European decision to place Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations, actively participating in the financing of political and media campaign against the resistance and feeding projects discord in Lebanon and the colonialist aggression against Syria. Bandar gangs play an essential role in the killings and extermination practiced in order of to break the resistance of Syria and its leader Bashar al-Assad.
This terrorist crime was universally condemned and the Lebanese have pointed a finger at Israel. But some have failed to emphasize the direct responsibility of the Takfirist gangs, which they give security, political and media coverage, to serve the interests of Israel. Their favorite tool is discord.
But this contention does not occur through the awakening of the people and their sense of responsibility. It failed in Lebanon and Syria in the last two and was buried in Egypt, after the resistance of the Syrian state allowed to reveal the true colonialist hegemony project, which aims to weaken Arab societies to serve Israel.
The partnership between the Lebanese Resistance led by Sayyed Nasrallah and Syria, was one of the main factors that caused the failure of this plan.
This partnership has once again been reaffirmed by Sayyed Nasrallah who revealed that President Assad told him during the July 2006 war, he was willing to declare war on Israel and the Syrian army was ready to participate in the fighting.
Today, this partnership is illustrated by the joint war waged against terrorists- takfirist in Syria where Hezbollah commitment had the following consequences: 1-Consecration of the equation of the Lebanese forces against Israel, through cooperation and coordination between the Resistance and the Syrian army. Damascus supplied Hezbollah with weapons that break the balance. 2-The presence of Hezbollah in Syria means that the front during the next war with Israel will extend from Naquoura, Lebanon, to the Syrian and Jordanian borders. 3-Hezbollah brought his experience in guerrilla warfare, which is a significant contribution to the restructuring of the Syrian army, launched by the Syrian leadership. This restructuring, which is a mixture between classical techniques and the guerrilla warfare is the reason for the strategic changes on the ground.
After the terrorist attack in the southern suburb, Sayyed Nasrallah promised the people a new victory over criminal and destructive project. This promise is based on solid truths about the real capabilities, a strong will and an unwavering popular support.
Sayyed Nasrallah spoke as the leader of a resistance struggling to liberate Palestine and the people of the region against Takfirist gangs. These are only a tool in the hands of the West and its regional agents, including Saudi Arabia. This project is doomed to failure.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah general secretary
«Israel is a prime suspect in the series of attacks in the country. Americans and Israeli intelligence had undoubtedly managed to infiltrate the jihadist groups, which are now working in the interests of the Israel. Hezbollah has upped its security as precautionary measures. Such measures could reduce the occurrence of attacks and the damage but are not enough. We should work on uncovering, besieging, dismantling, arresting, and abolishing these groups and these are merely standard measures practiced in every country. Takfiri groups should not enjoy political cover, security and political protection. Sectarian and confessional incitement should come to an end and our political conflicts should remain political. This requires awareness, patience, wisdom and tolerance. What we fear is the main goal of these murderers: to evoke fiery, emotional, irresponsible reactions that could lead to strife and the destruction of the country. Any irresponsible act will lead to dangerous and bloody results. To Takfiri groups, I say to you that if you work for Israel, we know who you are and our hands will reach you if the state neglects its tasks. We are not an alternative to the state but every time the state fails to shoulder its responsibility, we will shoulder that responsibility. If you think that by killing our women, children and the innocent people and destroying our neighborhoods we will back down or change our stance then you are mistaken. You idiots: read our 30-year experience with Israel well. Our response to any future bombing will be this: If there are 100 fighters in Syria, they will be 200. If there is 1,000, there will be 2,000 ... you are striking in the wrong place. If the battle with those terrorists requires me and all of Hezbollah to head to Syria, we will, for the sake of Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian cause which is the central issue.»
Bashar al-Assad, Syri'a President
«Syria has welcomed all constructive, genuine efforts to find a political solution to the crisis. But Syria is at the same time determined to confront terrorism and eradicate it. The cohesion between our heroic army and the people.»
A Syrian suspect is in the custody of Lebanese authorities as part of a probe into the July car bombing that targeted the southern suburb of Beirut, caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn announced Friday. A car bomb ripped through the southern suburb of Bir al-Abed on July 9, wounding over 50 people, in an attack widely seen as linked to the ongoing crisis in neighboring Syria. Ghosn identified the suspect as Syrian Hussam Al-Dine Abu Halaq, who was arrested by Army Intelligence a month ago. The minister said Halaq had links to others suspected of involvement in the bombing that fueled further fears of Lebanon being dragged into the crisis next door. According to the statement, a Kia, stolen by force in the Khaldeh region of south Beirut the night before the attack, was the vehicle used in the bombing. The car had been parked at a local cooperative in Bir al-Abed, a residential and commercial area of the southern suburb that was heavily damaged in the blast. Ghosn’s statement also disclosed information on suspects involved in other security-related incidents that have escalated security tensions in Lebanon, including two separate attacks on the Army in the east of the country. According to the statement, a man identified as Hasan Hussein Rayed who was arrested last month confessed that he and nine accomplices were behind an attack on a Lebanese Army checkpoint in Wadi Hmayyed, east Lebanon, which led to the killing of three soldiers. Rayed named Omar Ahmad Atrash, Sami Ahmad Atrash, Ubaida Mustafa al-Hujeiri, Sameh Bredi and four Syrians as his accomplices. According to Rayed’s confession, Omar Atrash was the mastermind of the group. Rayed also confessed to being responsible for two roadside bombs last month that exploded near an Army checkpoint near Hermel, east Lebanon. The statement said Rayed confessed that he and his accomplices had planned for several car bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs and other Lebanese regions. Ghosn also said that Army Intelligence had strong leads into the twin rocket attacks on Beirut’s southern suburb of Shiyyah in May. The defense minister said that he was disclosing the sensitive information in the interest of public opinion, in a bid to “to prevent strife” in the country. He warned that Lebanon was starting to slip into the “grip of terrorism” and urged the Lebanese to rally around the military institution and support it in its missions.
Fierce fighting raged in Latakia province on Syria's coastline on Sunday, as the army pushed an advance and killed a jihadist leader, activists said. The regime deployed massive reinforcements to fight rebels in Latakia, which has strategic and symbolic significance because it is the ancestral home of President Bashar al-Assad's clan. Rebels positioned in remote enclaves of Latakia's mountains launched the "battle for the liberation of the Syrian coast" about two weeks ago. Poorly equipped local fighters allied themselves with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), despite a history of poor relations. State television said the army has reclaimed rebel positions in the province, including Kharata, Janzuriyeh, Baluta, Baruda and Hambushiyeh. Scores of foreign (jihadist) fighters are being killed in the Latakia fighting. Among them was a Libyan emir or local leader of ISIS, said the Observatory. "Confirmed reports emerged of the killing of a Libyan ISIS emir while fighting in Jamusiyeh village," said the Britain-based monitoring group.
As Safir (Lebanese daily, Arab nationalist)
Mohammad Ballout, Paris (August 14, 2013)
According to reliable sources, the Greek Orthodox bishops of Aleppo, Youssef Yazigi, and Syriac Orthodox in the same city, Yuhanna Ibrahim, were killed at the end of May, a month after their abduction near the large metropolis in Northern Syria.
According to media and the Syrian opposition, the captors executed one of two bishops few days after his abduction, while the second prelate was killed in May.
Arab security source said that at a meeting with officials of Turkish intelligence, two months ago, dedicated to the issue of the Lebanese hostages in Syria, a question was asked about the fate of the two bishops. The short answer given by the Turkish officer was: "They were killed."
The eyes are on the Turkish intelligence services because they are not far from all the kidnappings that took place a few kilometers from the place of passage of Lebanese, Syrians and Europeans of different nationalities, close to the border with Turkey.
Information indicates that the two bishops have been kidnapped by the group of "supporters of the Caliphate", led by Abu Omar the Kuwaity. The kidnappers were composed of eight Chechen jihadists. "Partisans of the Caliphate" has changed its name some time ago to take one of the "Brigade of Islam." Abu Omar leads a group of Kuwaiti Mouhajirine (foreign fighters) mainly composed of 200 Chechens. He is of Shiite origin (his father converted to Sunni) and his real name is Hussein Lari. He swore allegiance to Mohammad Rifai, a former jihad in Afghanistan, which is now in London, and he considers him as the Caliph of Muslims.
An Nahar (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition)
(August 14, 2013)
According to informed sources, the issue of the abduction of the two Turkish pilots is more complicated than expected, because it is a response to events in Syria and the Turkish side did not keep the promises made to the Lebanese state through Minister of the Interior and the Director General of General Security. Steps have been taken by the Hezbollah responsible for coordination and liaison committee Wafiq Safa and the leadership of the Amal movement, Hussein Ajami, with justice concerning the detention of Mohammad Saleh, arrested in connection with the investigation.
Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Lebanese Resistance)
Ibrahim al-Amine (August 17, 2013)
Al-Akhbar has learned details of the radical jihadis’ plans to target the Resistance and its supporters. The August 15 Roueiss bombing was not a suicide attack and the perpetrators behind the explosion have been identified.
Ever since Hezbollah announced it was overtly engaged in the battle alongside the Syrian army against takfiri, or radical jihadi, groups, non-civilian agencies in the Resistance have been running estimates of the possible backlash against the Resistance and its supporters. Hezbollah had expected that armed Syrian opposition groups would fire rockets from border regions towards Baalbeck and Hermel, and understood that it needed to take measures to thwart such attacks.
Moreover, the Resistance, and with it official Lebanese agencies, understood that extremist Syrian and other non-Lebanese groups would also carry out attacks deep inside Lebanon, and not just in the Bekaa. Lebanese army intelligence even prepared “warning lists” based on the intel it gathered from direct sources, or as a result of cooperation with foreign security agencies on the activity of extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda.
But one problem was that the army has been coming under fire from some in the March 14 camp, most notably the Future Movement, which claimed that no such groups are present in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the army went through with its preemptive measures, and was directly attacked by these extremist groups at times. The army, however, failed to reach their hideouts in the town of Ersal.
As time passed, it became clear that these groups decided to develop a plan of action to benefit from a set of favorable circumstances, including the security chaos in the country and the lack of coordination between official security agencies. These groups have come to enjoy cover from some in the political class and the media – which sometimes even justify their crimes, for example, by blaming Hezbollah for attacks that occur in its strongholds. In addition, any attempt by the authorities to go into Ersal or some Palestinian camps would soon be met with extreme censure by the same politicians and media outlets, not to mention the unprecedented campaign against the Lebanese army in the wake of the Abra incidents east of Saida.
The first of such attacks in Beirut took place when Katyusha rockets were fired on the southern suburbs. This happened again, with rockets fired from an area in the Kesserwan district, after measures were taken in Aramoun and Bchamoun and the hills overlooking the Beirut airport and Dahiyeh. But lax security allowed the perpetrators to return to these areas, carrying out reconnaissance and transferring weapons between Bekaa, Beirut, Saida, and Palestinian refugee camps, in preparation for new terrorist attacks.
After the Bir el-Abed bombing on July 9, Lebanese army intelligence stepped up its counterterrorism activities. Intelligence was shared and cross-checked on a daily basis with the Resistance’s in-house security services. By contrast, the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces remained “idle,” and did not make any serious efforts, despite being asked to assist by both army intelligence and Hezbollah.
Within three weeks, comprehensive information on the perpetrators was gathered thanks to highly professional investigation work, but also because of mistakes made by the perpetrators. The preliminary findings made it possible to identify and apprehend a number of suspects, uncovering further details in the process, while other suspects went into hiding, most probably in and around the town of Ersal, according to investigations and information corroborated by Internal Security.
Following the Roueiss bombing, the army command found it necessary to take practical public measures, to push all parties concerned to assume their responsibilities. On Friday, Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn issued a statement containing a summary of the information obtained and verified by army intelligence regarding the circumstances of the terror attacks.
The “tough” decision to share this information with the public comes against the backdrop of the long-standing campaign against the army by March 14, which intensified following the clashes in Abra, and also following reports that March 14 – and the Future Movement in particular – intended to impede any raids or security operations in Majdal Anjar and Ersal.
According to sources in the investigation, the following information has been obtained:
The group that fired rockets on the southern suburbs consists of Palestinians, including Ahmad Taha, who is currently hiding in Ersal. Taha’s handler is a leader in a known Palestinian Islamic group. The rockets were purchased from a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut.
The group that planned and carried out the bombings along the Chtaura-Masnaa and Chtaura-Zahleh roads is based in Majdal Anjar. The group has been monitoring all roads that directly lead to Syria or Baalbeck, and kept tabs on the vehicles it believes were being used to move Hezbollah cadres or fighters to Syria along these roads. A list of suspects and their details is now in the possession of the army intelligence directorate. The directorate tried to arrest some of them several times, but was faced with stiff resistance indicating that the suspects are in fact “hunkered down” in Majdal Anjar.
The group tasked with preparing and detonating car bombs in Dahiyeh and the explosive devices along the Hermel road is operating out of Ersal. Lebanese army intelligence has obtained detailed information on the group’s members, including several who were named in the defense minister’s statement yesterday. One of the most prominent of these suspects is H. al-Houjeiri, who personally placed the explosive in Bir al-Abed on July 9.
H. Houjeiri’s group, which was tasked with execution, went to Beirut on July 8 carrying large quantities of explosives and detonators. The group was told to steal a car from an area near Dahiyeh and rig it with explosives. On the evening of July 8, two armed men carjacked a Kia parked near the road in Khaldah, after forcing its passengers (a Sunni man and a Shia woman) to get out at gunpoint.
The armed men then carried bags containing explosives to the car, before driving it toward Dahiyeh. The woman who owned the car reported the car stolen at a police station nearby, providing descriptions of the men and the other car they were driving. But there was little time to act. As planned, H. Houjeiri took the Kia to Dahiyeh via the Airport Road after it was rigged to explode, and left it at the parking lot in Bir al-Abed. Shortly after, the car was remotely detonated.
Members of the same group stole a BMW and rigged it with a large quantity of explosives. One member of the group then drove the car to Roueiss on Thursday, and parked it near a barbershop there. The car exploded 15 minutes after he left the area, according to the investigations.
The preliminary findings of the investigations indicate that the same group is behind both explosions in Dahiyeh, despite the attempt at deception by having different groups claim responsibility.
Investigations have also revealed that oversight of the entire operation has been entrusted to individuals from Ersal. These suspects are not affiliated with any Islamic group, but report to three individuals – a Syrian, Palestinian, and a Saudi – who are in charge of financing, planning, and choosing targets for operations. The trio is reportedly affiliated to a group operated by the security services of a major Gulf state.
The Daily Star (Lebanese Daily, August 19, 2013)
Lebanese authorities arrested four people suspected of belonging to a car-bombing ring, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Sunday, a day after a vehicle loaded with a large quantity of explosives was seized south of Beirut.
The fast-moving security developments, including last week’s deadly car bombing in Beirut’s southern suburb, have raised fears that Lebanon is rapidly being dragged into the civil war in Syria.
Political and sectarian tensions, fueled by the 29-month-old bloody conflict in Syria, have spiraled in recent weeks, threatening to destabilize Lebanon as the rival political leaders are sharply split in their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and armed opposition groups seeking to topple the regime.
“Four people were arrested and are suspected of belonging to a cell planning to detonate explosives in vehicles,” Charbel told The Daily Star.
Security sources said the four suspects, including the ringleader, Ahmad al-Said, a Salafist in his 50s, were arrested in the Mraah neighborhood of Naameh, a coastal town about 15 kilometers south of Beirut, where General Security personnel had seized Saturday a car containing over 250 kilograms of explosives.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, a senior security source said the four, Lebanese and Palestinians, were linked to the explosives’ vehicle seized in Naameh.
Authorities are also looking for a fifth suspect identified as Mohammad Assem Ahmad, the source added.
“The four suspects were planning to take the vehicle to another area to detonate it,” the source said.
The Army sealed off Naameh Sunday night in search for another possible vehicle containing explosives, the source said. He added that the Army combed for the second time the house of Ahmad’s wife in Naameh and his car in search of explosives.
LBCI TV station said the Army arrested Fouad Akram Ghayyad in Naameh on suspicions of his involvement in terrorist acts.
According to the security source, there had been initial suspicions the explosive-laden car found in Naameh, an Audi, had been rigged to explode but this was later ruled out.
Authorities found five containers in the car each with 50 kilograms of TNT and a remote detonator, the source said, adding that the Audi was parked near Naameh’s municipality and a residential building complex.
The state-run National News Agency said in a report that General Security had previously been on the lookout for the vehicle.
“Fears are rising that terrorist groups might have entered Lebanon with a target bank. This prompts security agencies to double their efforts and mobilize their energies to track down and capture these groups and foil their schemes,” the source said.
The source said investigators were looking into whether the four suspects were linked to last week’s deadly car bombing in the Ruwaiss neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold.
Last Thursday’s bombing in Ruwaiss, which killed at least 27 people and wounded over 300, was the latest in a series of security incidents linked to the war in Syria.
The Ruwaiss blast came more than a month after a similar car bombing in the Bir al-Abed neighborhood of the southern suburbs. That bombing wounded over 50 people and caused extensive damage to buildings.
Hezbollah, which in May announced it was fighting alongside Assad’s forces, had accused jihadists in Syria of the bombings in the southern suburbs and warned it would step up its military involvement in Lebanon’s neighbor in response.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the bomb in Ruwaiss weighed more than 100 kilograms. But Al-Jadeed TV station, quoting security sources, said the bomb weighed over 400 kilograms and was detonated by remote control five minutes after the car’s driver stepped out.
The specter of car bombings has alerted the Army and security forces to tighten security measures in and around Beirut. Hezbollah’s security agents also deployed at key intersections in the southern suburbs, setting up checkpoints and searching cars entering or leaving the area for arms and explosives.While rescue teams and civil defense workers continued Sunday to remove heaps of debris and charred cars from Ruwaiss, a newly wedded couple visited the bombing site where they took pictures and video films amid a crowd of people who welcomed them in a symbolic defiant message against the bombers.
President Michel Sleiman praised the efforts made by security agencies in discovering the explosives-laden vehicle in Naameh.
Sleiman demanded that investigations and searches in the Ruwaiss bombing be intensified and urged security agencies to pursue and apprehend the culprits.
He said he hoped Lebanese leaders would close ranks in order to provide “a network of safety and stability for the country amid the turmoil in the region’s states, which are paying the price of violence, killings and destruction,” according to a statement released by the president’s office.
For his part, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt warned against attempts at labeling security agencies in sectarian terms.
“Attempts to label security and military agencies in sectarian terms and transform them into groups to protect certain sects would be a big blow to the last fortresses that are still protecting Lebanon and preventing it from sliding into regional fires,” Jumblatt said in a speech read on his behalf by former PSP secretary Sharif Fayyad in the mountain town of Aley.
He hailed the “sacrifices of the Lebanese Army at a very tense political stage amid unprecedented divisions among the Lebanese.”
Separately, the Lebanese Army conducted a raid in Beirut’s southern suburbs at the weekend in search of a suspect linked to a recent rocket attack that wounded four people in the Lebanese capital, security sources said.
Saturday’s raid in the Burj al-Barajneh area was aimed at apprehending Ahmad Taha, suspected of being involved in the twin rocket attack on the Shiyah neighborhood on May 26, the sources said. But the Army could not find the suspect in his house, the sources said.
During the raid, the military searched a TV repair shop belonging to Taha and confiscated documents, cameras and CDs, the sources said.
The Guardian (British Daily, August 13, 2013)
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad wasn’t supposed to survive. Since the uprising began in 2011, it’s been long presumed in western political and media circles that he would be deposed or killed and that a new, more US-friendly autocrat would be installed. This hasn’t happened.
We know Russia and America have vastly different interests in the conflict. As for Australia, foreign minister Bob Carr predictably parroted the Washington line in October 2012 when he said, “this sounds brutal and callous, perhaps an assassination [of Assad] combined with a major defection, taking a large part of its military, is what is required to get ... a ceasefire and two, political negotiations”.
Foreign fighters are flooding into Syria– and they’ve become some of the fiercest and most successful insurgents against the Assad regime. US officials talk of the country becoming an extremist haven. Blue-eyed jihadists from Europe recently told Foreign Policy that they were committed to establishing an Islamic state inside the nation. Abu Salman (not his real name) said that, “They [the United States] only give weapons to the worst groups ... These groups operate inside the Free Syrian Army, but they even don't fight for democracy, they just steal money”.
At least a few hundred Australian are involved, causing growing sectarianism in Sydney between Sunni and Shia communities. I’ve spoken to many local Muslims who say the blindness being displayed on both sides – Assad backers ignoring the vast crimes perpetuated by his forces and rebel backers denying the extent of hardline Islamist support- is fuelling resentment and violence on the streets and online.
Tammam Sulaiman, the former Syrian ambassador to Australia, now
Damascus-based senior member of Assad’s foreign ministry and soon to be head of mission at the Syrian embassy in Pyongyang in North Korea, told me last week in an exclusive interview that he didn’t understand why the west remained silent when "rebel terrorism” was committed. He acknowledged that the regime had made “mistakes”, but stressed his government was determined to win. “Our general impression is that the battle will not finish soon”, he said.