Lebanese Army Arrests 3 Suspected of Planning Suicide Attacks

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, January 16, 2015

The Lebanese army arrested Thursday three people suspected of planning suicide attacks in the country, days after two suicide bombers killed nine civilians and wounded more than 50 at a crowded café in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of the northern city of Tripoli.

According to a statement issued by the army, an investigation showed the three suspects — Lebanese Hossam al-Naboush and Elie Toni al-Warraq, and Syrian Muhannad Ali Mohammed Abdul Qader — were linked to Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour, two of Lebanon's most-wanted Islamist fugitives.

The suspects were trained in neighboring Syria and pledged loyalty to jihadist groups al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's wing in Syria, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"They were preparing to carry out terrorist attacks targeting army centers and residential areas," the statement read, adding that they were using fake Syrian and Palestinian IDs.

Lebanon's security has been repeatedly jolted by the Syrian crisis, which has also paralyzed its government. The country has been without a head of state since May.

Lebanon's second city Tripoli has seen frequent violence pitting gunmen from Jabal Mohsen and neighboring Bab al-Tebbaneh against each other.

The Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) heightened security measures in the aftermath of the twin suicide bombing, the first breach to a security plan implemented in June last year following years of unrest between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.

Tripoli has historically been a bastion for Islamist groups, making it a concern for Lebanese security agencies that have warned of plans by ISIS and Nusra to destabilize the country.

Since October, the army has deployed heavily in Tripoli, detaining hundreds of people in an attempt to stem the violence.

In a separate statement on Thursday the army said it had discovered a car loaded with 120 kilograms of explosives in the outskirts of Ersal and that an army expert was working on dismantling it.

Militants linked to ISIS and Nusra mounted an attack on the Lebanese border town of Ersal last August. They are still holding 25 members of the Lebanese security forces taken captive in that incursion, after they executed four others.

(Reuters, Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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