Schlagwort-Archive: hizbollah

U.S. Journalist Found Dead In Lebanon

by Florian Flade

UPDATE: Lebanese media is reporting today that U.S. journalist John Redwine died as a result of a hiking incident. The American allegedly fell of a rock while climing the mountains of Central Lebanon and suffered from a deadly injury to his head. His death meanwhile was confirmed by United Nation staff in the country.

Lebanese TV reports U.S. freelance journalist John Redwine went missing last Saturday on a hiking trip in Northern Lebanon. Mr.Redwine´s car was found in the Kesrouan region. Unconfirmed reports say the American journalist was found dead near the city of Baskinta. No word on wether Redwine was killed or died because of an accident or natural causes.

Lebanese soldiers were using two helicopters and trained sniffer dogs to search for the missing journalist. UN staff meanwhile told reporters John Redwine´s dead body has been found.

John Redwine, a U.S. citizen born in 1978 in Sioux City (Iowa), has been living in Beirut for several years, reporting about political events in the country and neighboring Syria. He is fluent in Arabic and traveled the region extensively. In April American TV channel „Fox News“ interviewed Mr.Redwine about the uprising in Syria. In 2006 he worked as an Arabic translator for ABC News during the Israel-Hizbollah War.

Redwine´s death comes admits rising tension in the intelligence community as Lebanese Hizbollah has exposed a CIA spy network allegedly operating in Lebanon.

Mysterious Murder in Lebanon

by Florian Flade

Jund al-Sham leader Ghandi al-Sahmarani

Palestinian refugee camps are the Lebanese equivalent of Pakistan´s Waziristan – lawless, autonomous areas ruled by various political and militant factions and their armed militias, breeding grounds for violent ideologies. Twelve of these camps exist since the 1960s, most of them harboring tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled Israeli military campaigns and settled in the Cedar Republic. Lebanon´s government does not regard the Palestinians as citizens, even though new generations have been born and raised in the camps on Lebanese soil. Lebanese security forces try everything they can to avoid going into the chaotic camps. Invading these areas has taken a high toll on the Lebanese army in the past.

The refugees themselves are still carrying the hope of one day returning to a Palestine State and therefore often copy the resistance and militant culture of the Palestinian territories. Fatah exists in these camps, recruiting young Palestinians in exile and indoctrinating them with a Palestinian nationalism and prior to his death also with the Arafat-cult. Although not that influential, Exile-Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also established in the Palestinian camps, spreading a religious-driven jihadi form of resistance and martyrdom culture.

Much more dangerous than the well-known Palestinian factions who are competing to recruit the refugees for their cause are the smaller, much more radical groups gaining foothold in the camps of Nahr al-Bared, Ain al-Hilweh and others. Among them are Lebanese-born Salafi Jihadi groups such as „Esbat al-Nur“ and „Fatah al-Islam“ with an overall agenda of establishing a global Islamic State implementing Sharia not only in Palestine or Lebanon but across the Middle East. Influenced by al-Qaida and with a leadership of Jihadi veterans from the Iraq War, these groups are a major concern for the security of Lebanon.

One of the leaders of such a group was found dead yesterday in Ain al-Hilweh Refugee Camp near the Port City of Saida. Ghandi al-Sahmarani known as „Abu Ramiz al-Tababulsi“, was the leader of Jund al-Sham, a small Jihadi militant group fighting to create a Taliban-style state in the region of Sham (Greater Syria) – today´s Israel, Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The group´s leadership basically copied al-Qaida´s list of enemies – America, Israel, Jews, Christians – and added native enemies, the Lebanese government and security forces as well as nationalistic Palestinians and the Shiite Hizbollah which Jund al-Sham declared being „heretics“ and enemies of the Sunni people.

Jund al-Sham leader Al-Sahmarani was found murdered in a garage in Ain al-Hilweh, handcuffed and blindfolded with signs of torture all over his dead body. The dead body was taken to Hamshari Hospital in nearby Sidon where doctor´s examined the militant leader was killed by a single shot through his mouth in the head. Investigators believe al-Sahmarani was murdered in a different area and then brought to Ain al-Hilweh a few hours before he was found.

Ghandi al-Sahmarani was born in Tripoli and joined Sunni militant groups in the North of Lebanon. After violent clashes in 1999 near the city of Dinniyah left 11 Lebanese soldiers and several fighters of the so-called Dinniyeh-Group dead, he fled to the refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh (Population of 75,000) where the group established its headquarter. In 2004 Jund al-Sham was created under the leadership of former Abu Nidal-member Ahmed Abdul Rahman al-Sharqiyeh („Abu Youssef al-Sharqiyeh“) and immediately began a al-Qaida-inspired violent campaign to fight rival factions.

In July 2004 Jund al-Sham clashed with the Fatah militia in Ain al-Hilweh, leaving five people wounded. Back then Fatah military commander in southern Lebanon warned the Jihadi group: „We will chop off the hands of those who harm any Fatah member or civilian in the camp!“
Imad Yassin, the military head of Jund al-Sham, was a former member of Esbat al-Nur and merged his break-away faction into the new group, bringing in experience in sending Lebanese fighters to Iraq. By early 2005, Abu Youssef al-Sharqiyeh departed Jund al-Sham and the remaining group, consisting of only a few dozen members, was since then led by Ghandi al-Sahmarani (named „Al-Qaida leader of Lebanon“ by the media).

Since 2004 Jund al-Sham clashed numerous times with Palestinian militias loyal to Fatah. Shehade Jawhar, one commander of the group was killed fighting Fatah members in July 2008, other Jihadis died last week when groups were engaged in bloody battle.
Furthermore Jund al-Sham claimed responsibility for assassinations and targeted killings such as the murder of Hizbollah official Ghaleb Awwali in southern Beirut in 2004. Then leader of the group al-Sharqiyeh denied involvement and told news agencies: „“This statement is a fabrication. We have nothing to do with this operation… and the first party to benefit from it is the Mossad Israeli intelligence agency.“

As Jund al-Sham has never been a major player in the political stage of the Palestinian refugee camps, mystery remains why Ghandi al-Sahmarani was murdered now. Because of the group´s hostilities to the much more powerful and popular Fatah, the Jihadi leader was banned from entering Ain al-Hilweh since 2008. Taking the dead body to the camp can only mean he either entered the area without permission of local Fatah security forces and was captured and killed, or he was murdered outside of Ain al-Hilweh and the body positioned inside the camp as a warning to remaining Jund al-Sham sympathizers.

Highly unlikely is the possibility of a Hizbollah assassination. The Shiite movement was not seriously threatened by a small Jihadi faction like Jund al-Sham and therefore would not really care about the faith of the al-Qaida-inspired Palestinian militia.

Lebanon´s Next War: Al-Qa´ida vs. Hizbollah?

by Florian Flade

Why is Lebanese Shiite movement Hizbollah helping a radical Salafi extremist preacher sentenced to life in prison? What is the reason for a al-Qaida admiring, former anti-Shiite cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad to call to „bring Sunnis and Shiites together on certain issues“? In Lebanon the fear of a civil war, driven by al-Qaida´s Anti-Shiism agenda, is rising. Hizbollah observes an increase in hostile propaganda and activities within Lebanon´s Sunni community.

Salafi leaders accuse Hizbollah of threatening the change the face of the country, of acting arrogant and seeing Sunnis as an obstacle to execute their Iranian supported program. On a political level, Hizbollah´s power is seen as a danger to the security of Lebanese Sunnis. Several hardline factions such as the terrorist group „Abdullah al-Azzam Brigade“ are working to steer up hatred and violence between the two Muslim sects. An hour-long Anti-Shiite propaganda video was produced, titled „The Oppressed Sect“ (meaning the Sunnis in Lebanon).

As TIME Magazine reports in „Hizballah Fears ‚Qaeda‘ Type Attacks from Lebanese Sunnis“, Lebanon waits for a event to trigger a civil war situation between militant al-Qaida inspired Sunni groups and Hizbollah-backed Shiite community.

Read the interesting piece here.