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Ignored Puzzle Pieces Of Ain Hilweh Knowledge

Here are two more puzzle pieces to add to those I put on the table yesterday.  First, Aaron learned that Fatah al-Islam renewed the domain name for its website two days ago.  Second, the Lebanese paper al-Mustaqbal reports that the Lebenese Army has heard that there may be attacks on UNIFIL, the UN force keeping the peace in southern Lebanon.  Moreover, UNIFIL has warned its soldiers to stay away from the Ain Hilweh camp.

So to recap:

  • Fatah al-Islam announced a few days ago that its old leader, Shakir al-`Absi is either dead or in custody.
  • The new leader of Fatah al-Islam is being “protected” by the Jihadi group, `Usbat al-Ansar, in the Ain Hilweh camp.
  • `Usbat al-Ansar has declared that it is forbidden to attack the Lebanese Army “or any other army” and it is a duty to attack Jews in Palestine.  At the same time, it is negotiating the handover of the new leader of Fatah al-Islam to the Lebanese Army.
  • There are threats against UNIFIL and its been told to stay away from Ain Hilweh.
  • Fatah al-Islam has made sure that its web presence remains intact.  In the past, its website was where the group posted statements about its leaders and recent attacks.

There’s too little information here to predict what is going to happen but something is bubbling in the Ain.  Is `Usba going to attack UNIFIL to get cover for turning over the new head of Fatah al-Islam?  Or does Fatah al-Islam want to hit UNIFIL to fire up its supporters and pressure `Usba not to hand its leader over?  Or is none of this related at all?  Come on you Lebanon watchers, let’s hear some theories.  Use the cover of anonymity and put forward some bold predictions.

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2 Responses

  1. No bold predictions (and thus no need for anonymity), but when I was in Lebanon about 6 weeks ago asking around about Usba several of my interlocutors alluded to the group doing a deal with the state to “legitimize” their guns. In exchange Usba would become a go-between of sorts for the state with other jihadi groups. So the declaration that it is forbidden to attack the army would fit with that.

    As to whether acting as a go-between extends to handing over fugitive jihadis I’ve not idea. But it would not be the first time Usba did that. So not sure they would necessarily feel the need to hit UNIFIL as a cover. And from my cursory knowledge of past attacks, it seems it has primarily been Fatah al-Islam (or remnants of its network) that was going after UNIFIL. However, I’m more than prepared to have that statement corrected by those who have been following the situation more closely.

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