Lebanon’s security agency this week released a number of documents detailing a thwarted plot by a member of the Islamic State (IS) group to attack the US Embassy in Lebanon with a drone.
The Directorate of General Security published documents including handwritten notes and sketches of an improvised drone device as well as pictures of the ingredients used to build DIY bombs.
The release comes days after a Syrian national, identified as Ibrahim al-Salem, was referred to trial along with 20 other suspected collaborators after being held on suspicion of plotting an attack on the US Embassy in Lebanon.
A Lebanese military judge indicted the man on charges of belonging to the IS militant group and planning the operation on its behalf, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA).
NNA said the man was suspected of having prepared explosives and attempting to buy a drone for the attack.
However further details of the plot released on Monday reveal a string of blunders that eventually foiled the group’s attempt at an attack, including al-Salem’s attempt to receive money from a fellow IS member, known Abu Yusuf Al-Oropi (the European), but the plan fell through as he could not speak English.
During interrogation, al-Salem admitted to having pledged allegiance to IS and had been recruiting other members, establishing sleeper cells in Lebanon, and sourcing weapons and plotting attacks in Beirut under the orders of his senior, based in Tunisia.
Having moved with his family to Lebanon as a teenager in 2013, al-Salem was visiting his Syrian hometown of Irbid two years later, when the relatives he stayed with persuaded him to join the militant group’s Telegram channel, through which he was later recruited.
Via the same channel, he was given information on how to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from common household materials.
According to his Telegram conversations, which were published by General Security, his commander asked him “Can you target it?”, to which al-Salem replied: “The target is the US embassy and I’m ready.”
However al-Salem could not afford to buy a drone and resorted to trying to make one himself, making notes and drawing labelled sketches of the device on a lined exercise book.
Lebanon’s security agency said he planned to load the drone with IEDs. According to his confession, he planned to fly the drone over the embassy at a time it would be most busy.
The security force gave no further details on the 20 alleged collaborators or the charges against them.