Lebanon: Assassinated Sheikh Opposed US and Al-Qaeda

Gunmen attend the funeral of Sheikh Ahmad Abdel Wahed and his religious companion in their hometown al-Bireh, north of Beirut on May 21, 2012. (Photo: AFP - Joseph Eid)

By: Elie Hanna

Published Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunni cleric Saadeddine Ghiyyeh, who was assassinated by gunmen Tuesday, November 12, fought against the Americans in Iraq, but showed little sympathy for Wahhabism and the politics of al-Qaeda.

Ghiyyeh, a cleric associated with the Islamic Action Front and reportedly close to Hezbollah, was killed in cold blood in front of his home in Tripoli by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

Last September, there was a failed attempt on his life after a bomb planted in his car exploded, injuring him lightly. And more recently, he received repeated warnings from his allies, including Hezbollah, to leave Tripoli for his safety, but he refused.

Although he holds a doctorate in Sharia and was an imam at a mosque in his home village for many years, he was known as a low-key, security man with ties to radical Islamists such Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Absi, in addition to pro-Syrian parties, such as Hezbollah.

In 2003, he went to Iraq to join the resistance against the US occupation, where he was introduced to al-Qaeda for the first time. In 1997 he visited Afghanistan while it was still under Taliban rule, although he started his political activism as a member of a breakaway faction from the Palestinian Fatah.

He was detained briefly in 2007 during the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp events, in which the insurgent Fatah al-Islam group fought the Lebanese army for several weeks.

People close to him said he was overly lax about his safety until the September bomb attack that targeted him. Two days before his assassination, his associates in Hezbollah advised him to move to Beirut to live in a hotel temporarily, but he refused.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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