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BEIRUT, Lebanon – Al-Qaida has Lebanon and Syria in its sights as it seeks to take advantage of the growing unrest in Syria where fighting has now begun to turn into a virtual civil war and it is beginning to have a spillover effect in neighboring Lebanon, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
In targeting Lebanon, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for the assassination of two prominent individuals in the Lebanese government.
Al-Zawahiri now has offered a $300,000 reward – $150,000 each – for the assassination of Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, who is Shi'a Amal, and Lebanese Army Chief Jean Qathwaji, who is Christian. He proposed that they be killed by launching a missile attack on their motorcades.
Al-Zawahiri apparently feels the political, economic and social conditions in Lebanon are ripe for his group to make a move given that the instability in neighboring Syria is having a growing impact on the political environment in Lebanon.
Sources tell WND/G2Bulletin that the increasing presence of al-Qaida, united with more radical Salafist Sunnis who also are aiming to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is adding to the concerns since al-Qaida is infiltrating into Syria from Lebanon.
Sources say that the al-Qaida elements appear to be in Sunni-dominated areas of Lebanon, principally in and around the northern city of Tripoli and in Saida, or Sidon, a Sunni concentration that includes the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp.
This development also is prompting concern with the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah which opposes al-Qaida.
Hezbollah, formally called Loyalty to the Resistance but regarded as a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and a few other Western countries, sees al-Qaida making serious inroads in those Sunni-concentrated areas as well as in the Palestinian camps where living conditions, at best, can be described as deplorable.
According to informed sources, elements of Hezbollah have been openly fighting Sunni-backed militias who in turn have been battling with a large Alawite minority in the area of Tripoli. Al-Assad is Alawite, an offshoot of Shi'ism.
Sources say that Salafists and elements of al-Qaida have been joining with the Sunnis battling the Shi'ites who support al-Assad.
For Hezbollah, al-Assad's departure would have a dramatic impact on its survivability as a potent internal force which has flourished as a result of al-Assad's alliance with Iran which helps finance and equip it.
Al-Assad's departure also would have a major impact on the spread of Iran's influence throughout the Middle East. – a development which Sunni Saudi Arabia, which opposes Shi'ite Iran's growing influence in the Levant, backs.
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