Asharq Al-Awsat, Beirut – Fatah al Islam announced Wednesday that its leader, Shaker al Abssi has been “captured or killed” by the Syrian intelligence authorities.
The militant Islamist group said in a statement it had lost contact with al Abssi after he was ambushed on his way to a meeting aimed at making contact with insurgents in Iraq.
“Up to this moment, we have no knowledge, even though we are inclined to think they died. Yet, we have no evidence that proves this matter to us,” it said, according to a translated transcript provided by SITE, which monitors militant websites.
The organization also announced that al Abssi would be succeeded by Abu Mohammed Awad as the leader of Fatah al Islam.
“Three days after the loss of the sheikh and his companions, the Shura council of the organisation appointed the brother,
Sheikh Abu Mohammed Awad as successor to Sheikh Shaker al Abssi,” the statement said. “With the absence of Sheikh Shaker al Abssi, the new period starts. The organisation started regaining its strength and spreading in all of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.”
Syrian authorities stated that Fatah al Islam, the organization that battled with the Lebanese army for over three months in the Palestinian Naher al Bared refugee camp in Northern Lebanon in 2007, is responsible for the September 27 bombing in Damascus that left 17 people dead.
A senior security source in Lebanon told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese security apparatus had “information that al Abssi was in Syria, and this information had been obtained from the statements of a number of detained members of Fatal al Islam including one detainee who confessed to helping smuggle al Abssi from Beddawi Refugee Camp to Syrian territory.” However the source added that “there is no information as to whether he has been captured or killed.”