ISIS and Al-Nusra Declare War on Lebanon
By: Radwan Mortada
Published Saturday, January 25, 2014
The jihadi expansion into Lebanon is the main feature of a new phase to begin soon, ushering in a paradigm shift in terror attacks in the country.
On January 24, online jihadi forums affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were promoting a recorded speech by ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf al-Ansari, in which he will declare the expansion of the Islamic State into Lebanon. The speech will be posted today on ISIS’ official Twitter page at an as yet undisclosed time.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s branch of al-Nusra Front posted on its Twitter feed its fourth official statement to date, titled “Urgent appeal to Sunnis in Lebanon.” The statement declared, “Iran’s party [i.e. Hezbollah] and all its bases and […] strongholds are a legitimate target for us wherever they may be found.” Al-Nusra, based on its “concern for the blood of the Sunnis and to clear one’s conscience before God,” called on Sunnis in Lebanon to “refrain from approaching or residing in [Hezbollah] areas or near its bases,” and to “avoid its gathering places and posts.”
The jihadi factions are racing to declare war on Lebanon. This takes place in parallel with rapid security developments, in tandem with the Lebanese army crackdown on individuals suspected of involvement with al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. But what implications does al-Nusra Front’s fourth statement carry? And will there be anything new in the speech of ISIS leader Ansari?
Speaking to Al-Akhbar via Skype, a jihadi leader active in the Damascus countryside gave a preview of Ansari’s speech. He said, “Our war will no longer be confined to Syria. Soon, Lebanon will ignite.”
He continued, “The time intervals seen between the five bombings that hit Beirut’s southern suburb will shrink, and the pace of martyrdom [suicide] attacks against Hezbollah targets will accelerate.” The jihadi leader then said, “Things won’t stop at the time intervals between attacks, and their scope will also expand.”
“The amount of explosives used will also be doubled,” he added.
According to reports, Ansari is an al-Qaeda commander in Lebanon. His speech might be timed to take place in parallel with terrorist attacks.
The security services are tracking down jihadi movements between Lebanon and Syria. Security sources told Al-Akhbar that Saudi suspects were crossing through the border town of Ersal to fight in Syria, but did not confirm reports that the Saudis intend to return to Lebanon to carry out suicide attacks here.
The security services did not conceal their concerns regarding the possible use of so-called inghimasi fighters by the jihadis in their attacks. The inghimasi – from Arabic inghimas, plunging into, as in enemy ranks – is a type of suicide attacker who engages in guerilla warfare and does not activate his or her suicide belt except as a last resort.
In other words, the security services fear terrorist attacks against commercial centers or residential areas in specific regions, to cause the greatest number of casualties and cause a much bigger frenzy in the media than suicide attacks would do. In this regard, Al-Akhbar has obtained exclusive information revealing that advanced surveillance cameras were installed at a number of critical buildings nearly a week ago, while existing cameras have been replaced with more sophisticated ones to monitor suspicious movements.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.