Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Fatah al-Islam to Target Top Lebanese Officials | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A mid-rank leader of the militant group Fatah al-Islam currently based in Naher al-Bared camp has stated that leading Lebanese public officials will be assassinated if his group is subjected to any attacks by the government. He specified that the top political figures being targeted are Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora and Member of Parliament Walid Junblatt.

The 30 year old Palestinian national who goes by the alias Abu-Musab, told Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview that he personally witnessed the recruitment of approximately 25 Saudis through Jihadist forums, and that these new recruits have been called to join the Jihad in Iraq after receiving the necessary training and military preparation in various locations inside and outside the camp. He added that it is difficult to determine the precise number of the Saudis because of the “compulsory” residence imposed for a number of months on those who wish to fight in Iraq lest they are found out before the completion of the necessary arrangements for that.

Abu-Musab explained that the internet was the best means for mobilizing large numbers of young people from various Arab and Islamic countries such as (Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, etc).

Abu-Musab explained that his duties compromised of recruiting and mobilizing new members for the movement through the internet under the pretext of training and preparation for fighting in Iraq in Al-Hulwah camp and in the Samid hall (formerly a clothing workshop).

Abu-Musab, who joined the movement after abandoning Fatah Al-Intifada [Fatah Uprising], revealed that the mobilization of internet users used to be done through the exploitation of religious slogans encouraging people to fight the Jews and the USA and to go for Jihad in Iraq.

These are the same slogans which had won him and his colleagues to Fatah al-Islam movement. This was done through contacts and meetings inside the mosques of the camp. The discourse of the movement shifted from fighting the Jews and the USA and supporting Mujahidin in Iraq to opening a different front by fighting the Lebanese army and [causing] internal confrontations among Muslims. This was the main reason behind the surrender of a group of Fatah al-Islam members in the camp to the Fatah movement, including himself [Abu-Musab] about a year after he joined the movement [Fatah al-Islam].

Abu-Musab also commented on the double standards within the movement, where on one hand it adopts a religious and Jihadi discourse, and on the other, its members do not perform their prayers, drink alcohol and indulge in drugs. This made him wonder about the reality of the objectives of Fatah al-Islam.

According to Abu-Musab, the leadership of Fatah al-Islam went from Al-Absi and his deputy Abu Huraira after they went into hiding to Saudi Shahin Shahin, aka “Abu-Salmah”.

He considered Shahin as the official spokesperson and military commander for the time being. Abu-Musab assumed that Shahin, who hails Morocco, and who is assisted by four (Saudi and Yemeni) veiled aides, is the person in charge of linking the movement [Fatah al-Islam] with the Al-Qaeda organization. He is also the person who ratifies with his own signature Al-Absi’s communiqués before they are handed over to the media to be read out, and he is the first person in charge of fund-raising.

According to talks between Abu-Musab and Al-Absi and reassurances from primary leaders in the movement, the finances and military funding of the movement were already in place prior to Fatah al-Islam decision to declare disobedience against the Lebanese army and the government.

Abu-Musab said that as soon as the confrontation started with the Lebanese army, a big number of fighters who already had their military training began to emerge in the camp. He saw about 350 fighters whom he had never seen before. He also talked about military supplies, which he described as huge, and the provision of tens of millions of dollars to the movement according to what Al-Abasi told him during a meeting he had with him.