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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fatah al-Islam

There have been several reports out of Lebanon over the past few weeks about a Syrian-backed terror group called Fatah al-Islam. The organization was responsible for attacks against two buses in the Christian village of Ain-Alaq in which three people were killed in February. This is from al-Jazeera quoting Lebanon's interior minister:
Hassan al-Sabaa said on Tuesday that the men being held by the Lebanese authorities were members of Fatah al-Islam, a small Palestinian group which he linked to Syrian intelligence.

"It is no secret that Fatah al-Islam is Fatah al-Intifada, and Fatah al-Intifada is part of the Syrian intelligence-security apparatus," al-Sabaa told reporters.
Fatah al-Islam broke off from Fatah al-Intifada last year. Unlike Hezbullah, Fatah al-Islam is a 'Palestinian' group:
The breakaway group accused the Lebanese government of trying to pave the way for an offensive against the dozen or so camps in Lebanon, which house more than half of the country's estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees.

It first emerged in the Palestinian refugee camp of Bedawi in north Lebanon.

"If a man had been killed in the Amazon forest, Fatah al-Islam would have been accused of his murder," the group said in a statement.
Like all 'Palestinians,' Fatah al-Islam has marked Israel as one of its targets. "Our main objective is to combat the Jews in Palestine. We want to plant the banner of Islam in Palestine," one Abu Salim told Agence France Presse. Naharnet, a Lebanese news agency, is reporting this morning about Fatah al-Islam's training activities in Lebanon:
The training generally takes place at night to maintain secrecy. The recruits learn how to handle the arms near one of the group's offices in the camp under the watchful eye of black-clad guards.

In a hangar, the militants are introduced to medium and heavy weaponry, including anti-tank rocket launchers and cannons.

The Palestinian group counts about 150 militants among its ranks, some of whom have fought against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The group also has the largest arsenal among the various armed factions in Nahr al-Bared [the 'Palestinian refugee camp' in which the 'training' takes place. CiJ].
And although they deny it, Fatah al-Islam is apparently linked to al-Qaeda. So when former UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini of Italy told a press conference in Paris last Thursday that "The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is facing threats from radical Islamic groups with ties to al-Qaeda network" and then goes on to refer to "small Sunni groups," it's not Hezbullah (which is Shiite) but Fatah al-Islam that he had in mind. Keep an eye on them.


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