Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Al Qaeda is trying to increase its presence in Lebanon and create a foothold in the country, the country’s acting Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat told Asharq al Awsat Saturday.
In recent weeks, the Lebanese authorities have uncovered two al Qaeda groups and detained several foreigners, including Syrians, Palestinians and a Saudi. “We do not know the size of this activity but the issue is worrying us. I have the impression [al Qaeda] is trying to establish bases in Lebanon.”
Fatfat denied Lebanon was fertile grounds of extremist Islamic groups, such as al Qaeda, as had been mistakenly reported by news agencies following an interview he gave to the French newspaper Liberation. He did, however, admit that al Qaeda was secretly active in places “where there are suitable ideological current and social conditions (such as poverty).
The Interior Minister hinted Syria was allowing al Qaeda members to infiltrate into Lebanon and indicated Osama bin Laden’s group was coordinating its activity with the Palestinian pro- Syrian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command. He revealed the PFLP-GC had fired rockets at Israel, under orders from al Qaeda and noted “there are several trends within al Qaeda”, one of which would be cooperating with the Syrian security services.