Lebanese security forces arrest Daesh-linked minor

Daesh militants are recruiting minors to carry bombing missions, say Lebanese police. (Shutterstock image)
Updated 11 October 2018

Lebanese security forces arrest Daesh-linked minor

  • Young detainee has admitted to “joining many Daesh-affiliated groups about eight months ago, which distributed Daesh publications and ideologies” 
  • He said he was given instructions online on how to make bombs

BEIRUT: Lebanese internal security forces have announced the arrest of a Lebanese minor suspected of belonging to Daesh who was planning to carry out a terrorist operation by “placing a roadside bomb and remotely detonating it when a Lebanese army patrol passed in the area where he resides.”

Security sources told Arab News that the minor “is from the impoverished region of Akkar (northern Lebanon), and when he was arrested, he seemed convinced of what he was doing after he was persuaded by the people who communicated with him to carry out ‘jihad.’”

The Directorate General of the Security Forces, Public Relations Section, said in a statement that the arrest of the minor was part of “the preventive security strategy adopted by the information division of the internal security forces, in terms of focusing on members of the Daesh organization and those affected by its terrorist ideology.”

The directorate said it received information on Daesh’s intent to carry out terrorist operations and “as a result of tracking and monitoring, a special force of the division carried out a rapid security operation in which (the minor) A.D, born in 2002 in the Akkar area, was arrested and interrogated.” 

Consequently, the detainee admitted to “joining many Daesh-affiliated groups about eight months ago, which distributed Daesh publications and ideologies.” 

He added that he “met, through these groups, three people belonging to the organization, and discussed with them moving to Syria but, due to the difficulty in reaching Syria, they advised him to work for the organization in Lebanon because that combines the rewards for exodus and jihad itself.”

The directorate added in its statement that the minor “was convinced of their point of view, and told one of them that he intended to carry out a terrorist attack in Lebanon. The person encouraged him to do so and asked him to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as the caliph of Muslims.

The person also told him that he would be assisted and directed in the manufacture of an explosive device in order to carry out an operation in Lebanon. 

The minor agreed and he was given the text of the oath of allegiance, which he read before that person. 

The person sent to the minor an electronic link under the name of the “explosives channel” containing methods and means of manufacturing and preparing explosives. For five months, the young boy learned how to manufacture explosives with 46-caliber nitrate and other materials. 

Two weeks before his arrest, the person sent him the way to prepare an explosive device and a detonator and asked him to get the necessary materials, so that the operation could be carried out through a “cellular phone” linked to the explosive device. 

According to the investigation, the detainee said he “started searching for nitrate but was unable to find it. 

“Moreover, he did not explore any specific targets, so he decided to put a roadside bomb and detonate it remotely when a Lebanese army patrol passed through the area where he lived.”

About a month ago, the directorate said the same person “sent him (the minor) a detailed videotape about how to prepare an explosive device using a domestic gas cylinder used for cooking, and asked him to prepare it because it was easy and the material was easy to find. 

“He (the minor) proceeded to prepare it secretly, but he was arrested before the device was finished.”

However, journalist Hazem Al-Amin, a specialist in terrorist groups, especially Daesh, told Arab News that he had doubts in the possibility of any communication “between Daesh and other groups in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon because the organization lost its ability to communicate two years ago and became separate segments.”

Al-Amin also questioned the possibility that the young boy communicated with Daesh, saying that the Lebanese security services did not show competence or credibility in the field of investigations conducted after the big scandal of one of the security services in the case of Ziad Itani, which later proved to be fabricated.

But Al-Amin stressed that “individuals can carry out terrorist acts,” pointing out that Al-Nusra Front terrorist organization is still operating in the Syrian province of Idlib and has a limited presence in a number of areas surrounding Syria.

Istanbul summit aimed at avoiding new humanitarian disaster in Idlib

Updated 22 October 2018

Istanbul summit aimed at avoiding new humanitarian disaster in Idlib

  • The event will focus on ‘harmonizing joint efforts for finding a lasting solution to the conflict’
  • Germany and France welcomed the Turkey-Russia deal on Idlib that had set Oct. 15 as the deadline for removing all radical groups from a demilitarized zone in the province

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to attend a critical four-way summit on Syria in Istanbul next Saturday. 

They will discuss recent developments in the war-torn country as well as projections for a political settlement.

Experts have underlined the importance of this summit in providing a strong push for key EU countries to work together with regional players to end the years-long conflict in Syria as it will gather the four countries’ leaders at the highest level.

The summit will focus on the recent developments in the opposition-held northwestern province of Idlib, and the parameters of a possible political settlement.

The ways for preventing a new refugee inflow from Idlib into Europe via Turkey, which is home to about 3.5 million Syrian residents, following a possible offensive by the Assad regime will also be raised as a topic that mainly concerns France and Germany and pushes them to work more closely with Turkey and Russia.

The summit will also aim at “harmonizing joint efforts for finding a lasting solution to the conflict,” presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin announced on Friday.

Germany and France welcomed the Turkey-Russia deal on Idlib that had set Oct. 15 as the deadline for removing all radical groups from a demilitarized zone in the province. Although the withdrawal of some opposition groups from the zone has not been accomplished in due time, Ankara and Moscow have agreed to extend the deadline for Idlib, which is still a strategic area where the opposition holds out.

“Turkey and Russia want the status quo for Idlib. Although the jihadists have not withdrawn from the demilitarized zone, Russia is turning a blind eye,” said Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon II.

“Turkey will make some efforts to save face. Turkish proxies have withdrawn because Turkey pays wages, so they must obey, but for the jihadists it is more complicated,” he told Arab News.

According to Balanche, without the complicity of Turkey, the Syrian regime cannot take over the north of the country.

“In exchange, Turkey wants a buffer zone in the north, all along its border. The main objective is, of course, to eliminate the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the border as it has already done in Afrin. A secondary objective is to protect its opposition allies and the Turkmen minorities, many in the province of Idlib but also between Azaz and Jarablus,” he said.

But the summit also shows that these four countries need each other in the Syrian theater as each of them has stakes regarding the settlement of the crisis.

Emre Ersen, a Syria analyst at Marmara University in Istanbul, said the main goal of the summit is to provide a major diplomatic boost to the ongoing Astana and Sochi peace processes, which have so far been led mainly by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

“A second and maybe even more important goal is to include France and Germany in the reconstruction efforts in Syria once the civil war is over,” he told Arab News.

Considering the cost of the reconstruction, estimated at about $400 billion, Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are not ready to take this enormous financial burden without the financial support of the West, Ersen said.

“Both Paris and Berlin hope that Ankara’s ongoing efforts to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Idlib can be successful. If the settlement in Idlib does not work, everybody is aware that this may lead to a big refugee crisis for both Turkey and Europe once again,” he added.

Martina Fietz, deputy spokeswoman for the German government, told a news conference in Berlin that her country is also hopeful about the forthcoming summit’s potential contribution to the stabilization of Idlib’s de-escalation zone.

“Progress in the UN-led political process, in particular the commencement of the work of the constitutional commission, will be discussed,” she said.

The chief foreign policy advisers of the quartet have met in Istanbul in recent weeks to discuss the agenda of the summit.