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BEIRUT, Lebanon – A Lebanese Sunni Salafist who is a self-proclaimed spokesman for al-Qaida until he was kicked out of Great Britain a few years ago says al-Qaida will use Syria to expand into other Arab countries and into Africa.
“Once the ISIS or Nusra Front begin to establish an Islamic emirate in Syria, they will work to extend it to include not only the Levant but all Arab countries and then Africa,” according to Mullah Omar Bakri.
ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and the Jabhat al-Nusra Front are the two official al-Qaida organizations now operating in Syria. They have already begun to launch attacks in neighboring Lebanon and appear to be building their forces on, or near, Palestinian camps, some of which are under the control of the United Nations Work and Relief Agency, or UNWRA.
Bakri first came to public attention when, in an October 2000 interview published in an Italian newspaper, he admitted that al-Qaida was training “kamikaze” pilots to launch attacks against Western targets.
Western intelligence largely ignored such a public disclosure even though the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had snippets of information that, if combined, would have shown a pattern of behavior pointing to the events on September 11, 2001.
On that day, 19 mostly Saudi Arabians, all Sunni Wahhabists, flew aircraft into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon and crashed a third in the fields of Shanksville, Pa. The three terrorist hijackings, which happened simultaneously, killed some 3,000 people in one day.
Given the extent to which Saudi-backed al-Qaida and its affiliates and allies are conducting attacks in Syria, and have virtually replaced what was once the Syrian opposition, Lebanese authorities are expressing increasing concern that al-Qaida attacks are beginning to pick up in Lebanon itself.
Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbet said the jihadists operating in Syria now are active in Lebanon and pose an increasing threat.
Over the past few months, three car bombs have gone off in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh in south Beirut.
The latest was at the Iranian embassy located in that area, in which two car bombs went off in an effort to destroy the embassy and kill its personnel.
Instead, the blast, which occurred in a largely residential area, killed 23 innocent civilians.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is present in Lebanon in the form of individuals,” Charbel said. “The danger lies in these individuals forming an organization of their own.”
At the moment, much of the ISIS and al-Nusra activity centers around the Sunni city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, although WND has learned that up to 2,000 al-Qaida affiliated members of al-Nusra reside in Ain el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon located in Saida, or Sidon, south of Lebanon’s capital of Beirut.
At Ain el-Hilweh, these individuals have begun to form various cadres and are heavily armed. Sources at the camp tell WND they influence more than 50 percent of the camp, which has a population of some 100,000 Palestinians, although it was designed for only 20,000.
A recently released ISIS video has Islamists threatening to assassinate Charbel over the heightened security measures the Lebanese government is now taking in Tripoli in an effort to contain the violence there.
Lebanese army forces have primary responsibility for security in Tripoli as a result of deadly clashes that have been taking place between local residents following a deadly double bombing at two mosques last August.
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