By Arab News
By Najia Houssari
Lebanese security forces have arrested five members of a terrorist network that tried to recruit suicide bombers to carry out attacks in Beirut.
Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said on Wednesday that security teams “busted a terrorist group planning to carry out operations in three locations in Beirut’s southern suburbs,” which are a stronghold of Hezbollah.
“A terrorist network of Palestinian nationals that recruited young people to carry out major operations with explosive belts and missiles that could have caused many casualties was dismantled,” he said.
The three target locations were Al-Kazem Complex in Madi neighborhood, and the Lailaki Complex and Hussainiyat Al-Nasser in Ouzai.
The five people arrested are accused of planning the attacks and providing the necessary weapons and explosives.
According to a press release, “since the start of 2021, a source made links with a person in Daesh in Syria called Assad Al-Chamy, and a specialist team from the Lebanese security forces started guiding the source, nicknamed ‘Abu Khutab,’ to communicate with Al-Chamy.”
It continued: “Al-Chamy asked Abu Khutab about his readiness to carry out a suicide attack, given his experience with the use of light weapons and ability to drive, and the source was instructed to agree.”
Al-Chamy told Abu Khutab that an explosive belt would be sent to him. Abu Khutab was also connected with an operator nicknamed “Abu Jaafar,” who would train him on how to use it.
Abu Jaafar arranged for the belt to be delivered to a location in Saadiyet in the south of Lebanon on May 14, 2021. The operation also included the handing over of a hand grenade and 500,000 Lebanese pounds ($330).
Meanwhile, the Lebanese security team created identities for two fictitious Syrian nationals, whom Abu Khutab told Assad Al-Chamy could be trusted and shared Daesh’s ideology.
Communication between Abu Jaafar and Abu Khutab continued intermittently until the end of 2021 when Abu Khutab was provided with three suicide vests, two hand grenades and 1.9 million Lebanese pounds. The handover was captured on video by a drone.
Each of the three vests was filled with enough explosives to kill hundreds of people and cause damage across a 300-meter diameter area.
Between Feb. 7-11, Al-Chamy asked Abu Khutab to carry out the suicide bombings at three locations simultaneously.
Al-Chamy told Abu Khutab on Feb. 17 that he would be sent three Kalashnikov rifles, four hand grenades, 1.5 million Lebanese pounds and the Daesh flag. He also asked that the three bombings be conducted in the following three days.
The security team arrested the suspects, including Al-Chamy, as the weapons were being handed over. They were all Palestinians living in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp and some were affiliated with Daesh.
Mawlawi said on Tuesday that he had received a letter from Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak saying that “Houthis are carrying out hostile acts of incitement from within Lebanese territories” by broadcasting without the necessary licenses from the television channels Al-Masirah and Al-Sahat TV.
He asked security forces to gather information about the people operating the channels so that steps could be taken to stop them.