Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Syrian security source has stated that “all members of the group” that carried out last Saturday’s bombing in the Syrian capital of Damascus were “Arab nationals” and that none of them were Syrian. The security source told semi-official Al Watan newspaper that the target of the attack was not the district where the bombing took place.
The security source stated that “Authorities were able to reveal the cell that planned the attack and arrested a number of its members,” highlighting that the “the search continues for a number of others.”
According to the unnamed source, all members of the group [responsible for the attack], “are of Arab nationalities and none of them are Syrian…The target of the terrorist operation that took place on Saturday morning in the Al Qazzaz district was not the district itself or the security branch in the area. The reasons behind the explosion will be disclosed at a later stage.”
Al Watan stated that the bombing, which killed 17 people, “took place in the densely-populated Al Qazzaz district close to the Palestine security branch [of Syrian military intelligence].” Its victims included Brigadier General George Ibrahim al Gharbi and his son. According to the source, “Investigations are underway to determine the terrorists’ real target…Investigations have shown that this cell was working towards disturbing the security and stability of Syria at the instruction of the parties that fund it.”
An official statement released Sunday said that following the arrest and interrogations of those involved in this case and following the initial inquiries carried out by special security authorities, it was revealed that “links have been made between the operation and a Takfiri organization, some of the members of which have been arrested previously and are still being questioned. The search continues for escapees.” The statement did not make mention of the number of individuals who have been arrested or of any information indicative of their nationalities.
The statement further revealed that “the car used [in the attack] was a burgundy-colored GMC Suburban with a number plate bearing the numbers ‘83115’ and had a gold line running across its side. Its engine number was 3JKJK26U3X2185882. It entered the country on September 26, 2008 via a neighboring Arab country.”
Syria shares its borders with three Arab countries: Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and also borders Turkey and Israel.
“A terrorist was driving the car and blew himself up in the car. DNA tests are being conducted on his remains in order to identify him,” added the statement.
The active fundamentalist organizations that are present in Syria include Jund al Sham [Soldiers of Syria] and Ghurabaa al Sham [Strangers of Greater Syria].
A Syrian expert on Islamist groups told Asharq Al-Awsat, Sunday, “The Takfiri group to which the statement refers could be Jund al Sham as it is the one organization that is repeatedly mentioned in official statements released by Syrian authorities on the clashes with Takfiri groups over the past four years, explaining that in June 2005, Syrian authorities informed of a terrorist plan by this group [to be executed] in and around Damascus.
However another fundamentalist source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ghurabaa al Sham’s involvement [in this attack] should not be ruled out. Ghurabaa al Sham is another fundamentalist organization whose leader, Dr Mahmoud Qul Aghassi, aka Abu al Qaqaa, was killed in Aleppo. He was shot by an unknown attacker on September 29, 2007. Abu al Qaqaa was responsible for recruiting Jihadists to send to Iraq.