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Panic, Fear among Lebanese after Embassies’ Security Warnings | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The US embassy in Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Beirut – Western embassies in Lebanon issued security warnings during the past two days, causing panic and fear among the Lebanese people.

The security forces assured however that the situation is under control, even if it was delicate in wake of the battles in the northeastern border area of Arsal to expel ISIS terrorists. The expulsion had promoted fears of attacks by sleeper cells in the country.

The US Embassy in Beirut was the first to issue a warning two days ago. It was then followed by embassies of Canada and France within less than 24 hours. France limited the security threat to the upcoming 48 hours before the Lebanese army announced the arrest of a security cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks.

The army clarified that the military had taken necessary preemptive measures. It had received information that an ISIS cell, headed by Egyptian Fadi Ibrahim Ahmad, was planning to carry out an attack. It consequently carried out a number of raids, arresting 19 suspects linked to the cell. Ahmed is hiding in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh near the southern city of Sidon.

While the French embassy pointed out that its warning was linked to previous warnings by western embassies, the US Embassy refused to give more details.

“These warnings are based on information from a foreign intelligence agency,” the Interior Ministry said.

“Lebanese security services are following up to check their authenticity and accuracy… There is no cause for fear or overreacting,” added the ministry.

Further, the Ministry Foreign Affairs called on embassies to take into consideration the panic such statements cause on residents, Lebanese and foreigners.