Michael Totten

Lebanese paper: Syria to kill 36 Lebanese politicians

By Abu Kais

The story of a Syrian suicide bomber blowing himself up at a border crossing was not the only bizarre story reported by the media yesterday. Another story was that of a new Palestinian faction breaking away from Fatah Intifada (Fatah uprising), a Damascus-based faction that split from Yasser Arafat’s main Fatah group in 1983.

More details emerged today, linking the new group, Fatah Islam, to a plot to assassinate Lebanese politicians.

According to the pro-Hariri newspaper al-Mustaqbal, the members of the new group were sent to Lebanon by the Assad regime to assassinate 36 Lebanese political figures. They were reportedly deployed in refugee camps in the north and in Beirut’s southern suburb (Bourj al Barajnah). Once in Lebanon, they were told to coordinate their actions with Fatah Intifada’s number two, Khaled al-Emleh.

Investigations with two arrested members of Fatah Islam apparently unveiled the plot, prompting Fatah Intifada to quickly disassociate itself from the new movement, which also quickly declared its independence from Fatah Intifada after using their offices for more than 56 days. Interestingly, the arrested members, a Syrian and a Saudi, identified themselves as Fatah Intifada members.

Fatah Intifada is practically run by Syrian intelligence, and has "bases" along the Syrian border, from which they occasionally shoot at Lebanese army soldiers if they dare approach their "territory".

Al-Mustaqbal said Lebanese army intelligence arrested the two members following their involvement in the killing of other Palestinian militants in the Baddawi camp in the north four days ago. They both carried Syrian passports issued in Damascus. They reportedly confessed to being members of a 200-strong group led by Syrian intelligence agent Mahmoud Kolaghasi.

Al-Mustaqbal also quoted journalists in the north as saying that the new group’s leaders are claiming independence from Syrian intelligence, although they admit to coordinating with them in the past over the sending of fighters to Iraq until Syrian intelligence, according to Fatah Islam leaders, "tightened the noose".

A Fatah official, Sultan Abu al-Aynayan yesterday told the Lebanese official news agency that this group was a "strange phenomenon" and tried to disassociate it from any working Palestinian faction. He said they are a branch of al-Qaeda who used Fatah Intifada as a cover until they broke away forming their own faction. He said they have enormous amounts of money and were supplied with weapons when they were part of Fatah Intifada.

"We assert that this group has no role in Lebanon but maybe they should be in Iraq or Palestine," he said.

Fatah Intifada also disassociated itself from the new group and said they belonged to al-Qaeda.

Walid Jumblatt today accused the Assad regime of creating a new cover to assassinate political figures in Lebanon. You will remember how many times Assad and his foreign minister warned the world that al-Qaeda was infiltrating Lebanon. I guess they know because they send them there.