Lebanon: New armed group exploits sectarian incitement in Tripoli

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Chadi al-Mawlawi, one of Tripoli's most infamous Islamist figures. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Abdel Kafi al-Samad

Published Friday, September 19, 2014

The news of Osama Mansour and Chadi al-Mawlawi forming a militant group in Tripoli took the city by storm, and is now at the forefront of media, political, and security concerns. It has been reported that the two fugitives are overseeing an armed group in the region of Bab al-Tabbaneh, ranging between 40 to 50 militants, including Syrian nationals, with probable links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front.

Information revealed that militants affiliated to Mawlawi and Mansour currently control a security zone in the proximity of Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque, and enjoy local support and sympathy, which may cause a setback to the implementation of the security plan in the city and eventually lead to its collapse.

Fears in Tripoli escalated following suggestions that the militant group has links to ISIS, especially since Mawlawi who was arrested and later released by General Security, was accused of having contacts with al-Qaeda figures.

Meanwhile, Mansour is a close confidant of Islamic preacher Omar Bakri Fustok, who was arrested by the army intelligence a few months ago. Mansour is also accused of shooting Alawi citizens in Tripoli following the explosions that targeted al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques last year, and of killing Bint Jbeil native Fawaz Bazzi, who lived with his family in Bab al-Tabbaneh for many years.

However, political and security sources told Al-Akhbar that “the group members are estimated to be only 15 militants, some of them Syrian, deployed within Bin Masoud Mosque, which used to be under the control of the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects (al-Ahbash), but they had to relinquish it a few month ago, due to political pressures and incitements against them.”

“The mosque was put under the supervision of a sheikh from al-Bustani family, but the latter was quoted as saying that the Mansour-Mawlawi group overtook the mosque without his permission,” the sources added.

The sources explained that “at the beginning of the implementation of the security plan, Tripoli sheikhs convinced Mansour and Mawlawi to lie low, and that is what happened. However, they reemerged together since the start of the recent events in Ersal, alongside other armed men, including Mansour’s brother. They later settled in Bab al-Tabbaneh, taking advantage of the events in Ersal and the sectarian incitement that followed.”

These sources reassured that the Mansour-Mawlawi group “is under strict surveillance and that their security zone does not exceed the mosque and the adjacent neighborhood.” They also denied rumors that the group was “imposing protection rackets on local residents,” but asked “what financial source is providing the group with all its needs? And what is the point of supporting it?”

They suggested many options to deal with the group, including the possibility that its members turn themselves over to the security forces, which is unlikely at the moment. They also considered the idea of expelling them from the region, an option which is currently under discussion, although it has not been clarified yet. The third option is taking security measures to eliminate the group, although this will have many repercussions and risks, since the militants are active in a densely populated area. The final option is keeping the situation as it is until the right conditions arise to deal with it.

The sources indicated that “arresting the members of the Mansour-Mawlawi group is relatively easy because they are mercenaries and not ideological fighters like Wissam al-Sabbagh, who was arrested with some members of his group earlier. However, the problem is that they are fortified inside the mosque which protects them from being targeted.”

“In general, it does not seem that there is a fertile ground for Mansour-Mawlawi group in Bab al-Tabbaneh, especially since both men are not from the area. However, past experiences have proved that people usually sympathize with similar groups, mainly due to sectarian incitement.”

The sources shed light on “two important factors,” first that some mosques’ imams continue to “incite [people] against the army,” and second that the city’s ministers and deputies “who accused the army of failing to eliminate security zones in Jebel Moshen, or ones affiliated to the Islamic al-Tawhid Movement, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, or groups endorsing Hezbollah, are suspiciously silent about this security bloc that is now threatening the city’s security and stability.”

The threat of an armed uprising in the North

Today is the last day of the deadline given by the imam of Haroun Mosque in the village of Bihnin in Miniyeh, Sheikh Khalid Hablas, to the Lebanese state to “end the injustice against Islamic prisoners,” held in Roumieh prison.

Hablas had warned that if security officials and other concerned parties do not respond within the one week deadline “an overwhelming uprising will erupt all over the North, even if this leads us to carry arms to protect our revolution and achieve our demands, since peaceful measures did not work.”

Supporters of Hablas, an Akkar native living in Miniyeh, were expecting their sheikh to declare an “armed uprising” today, but he instead posted an audio message mentioning mediations and promises he received from concerned parties, which would pave the way for some sort of solution. He, however, stressed that “these are mere promises.”

Hablas said he will clarify all these issues during his Friday sermon in al-Taqwa Mosque in Tripoli. Meanwhile, a number of Tripoli’s local sheikhs told Al-Akhbar that “nothing will happen (today) since they have received promises from (Hablas) to remain calm,” assuring that he will not cross the red line, but will escalate his positions in his speech, as usual.

It is worth mentioning that Hablas constantly lambasts sheikhs in his speeches and accuses them of being “weak and sellouts.”

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Don't betray your Country, for your own personal advantages!

To attack the Army that is serving to protect all of Lebanon, is an attack against Lebanon!!

Shame on all those narrow minded fanatics.

Lebanon comes first, as it represents the Greater Good!! Lebanon is for All Lebanese!!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top