BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Lebanon charged 13 suspected al Qaeda members on Friday with planning to launch terrorist attacks, military prosecutor Ahmed Awidat said.
The charges also include possession of weapons and forging documents, Awidat said. He did not give further details, but said the suspects would appear before a military magistrate for questioning at a later date.
Security sources said earlier on Friday that Lebanese security forces had arrested the suspects — seven Syrians, three Lebanese, one Saudi, one Jordanian with Lebanese nationality and one Palestinian — about two weeks ago.
Al Qaeda has rarely launched attacks in Lebanon, although it has used allied factions to recruit scores of volunteers among Lebanese and Palestinian refugees who went to Iraq to fight.
One of the al Qaeda hijackers in the September 11 attacks in the United States was a Lebanese national.
A foiled attempt to bomb the Italian embassy in Beirut in 2004 was blamed on a small militant group with links to al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for firing three Katyusha rockets from south Lebanon into northern Israel on December 27. There has been no independent confirmation that the Sunni Muslim militant group was behind that attack.
Israeli warplanes bombed a Palestinian guerrilla base just south of Beirut in retaliation for the strike.
South Lebanon is largely controlled by Shi’ite Hezbollah guerrillas who have sporadically clashed with Israeli forces since the Jewish state ended 22 years of occupation in 2000.