"BEIRUT — Sunni militants have been flocking from Lebanon to Syria in greater numbers in recent months to join forces with Islamic extremists battling the Syrian government, according to senior Lebanese security officials...At the forefront of the growing Sunni alliance is the al Nusra Front , a militant group thought to have links to al-Qaeda that the U.S. government has labeled a foreign terrorist organization, according to senior Lebanese security officials.The al Nusra militants have established links with extremist cells mostly based out of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city, which has long been a hotbed of Sunni militancy.
“A strong relation exists between the al Nusra Front command in Syria and Sunni extremists in Tripoli,” said a senior Lebanese security official who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the record.....
Two of the leading figures who are helping expand the ties between Lebanese and Syrian extremists groups have been known to Lebanese security officials for years.
On the Lebanese side of the border, the trip for the volunteers killed in Tel Kalakh was partially funded and organized by Hussam Sabbagh, a well-known militant who is thought to have fought in Afghanistan, according to a senior Lebanese security official who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the record. Sabbagh, contacted through intermediaries, refused to give an interview.
The main point of contact on the Syrian side was Khaled Mahmoud, another well known Lebanese militant, according to a senior Lebanese security official. In late December, Mahmoud appeared in a video posted online wearing a black turban and flanked by two masked men toting machine guns.
Mahmoud, using the nom de guerre Abu Suleiman al Muhajer, described several religious injunctions to urge Muslims to wage jihad in Syria. He also announced the formation of Jund al Sham, the first Sunni armed opposition group in the Syrian conflict led by a Lebanese militant. Mahmoud, identified as the emir or religious leader of the group in the video, said that they would be operating in Homs province, which borders Lebanon.
The ties between Sabbagh and Mahmoud go back many years. Both men had links with Fatah al Islam, a radical Sunni group that fought a bloody battle against the Lebanese army in north Lebanon in 2007 that left at least 100 soldiers and militants dead.
Many of the leaders of Fatah al Islam were either killed or imprisoned in Lebanon’s notorious Roumieh prison after the clashes. Mahmoud served seven years in the Roumieh prison for his militant activities and was released only last summer. He crossed the border into Syria with the help of smugglers shortly after he was released from jail, according to a senior Lebanese security official. ..."
Saturday, January 26, 2013
"A strong relation exists between the al Nusra Front command in Syria and Sunni extremists in Tripoli,”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:58 PM