Posted by Joshua on Sunday, January 13th, 2008
T-desco is a well informed analyst of radical groups in Lebanon who comments regularly on SC and keeps track of the many contradictory news stories about the country's radical Sunni groups. He has been reluctant to generalize, but has made an exception this week. Here are two of the five comments that he added to the last post:
A man originally described as a leading member of Islamist militant group Fatah al-Islam when he was arrested in an apartment in Tripoli on Thursday, has now also been identified as Nabil Mohammad Ghasub Rahim, the No. 2 of al-Qaeda in Lebanon.
According to a report on the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, Rahim is second only to the fugitive Palestinian chief of Fatah al-Islam, Shaker al-Absi.
Al-Absi purportedly released an audio tape message earlier this week on the Internet threatening renewed attacks on the Lebanese army and pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda.
The report said that Rahim, who is a Lebanese citizen, is the key to terrorism in Lebanon because he is the link there between Fatah al-Islam and other countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, with young Saudi nationals, who form the largest and most powerful component of the militant group.
Rahim, 36, took over as second-in-command from the Saudi national Bassam Humud, who recently returned to his home country.
Rahim is believed to have been hiding in the apartment in the Abu Samra neighbourhood of Tripoli for about 11 months from where he coordinated group’s activities including recruitment into the militant group.
He was in contact with another 11 terrorists and the investigators hope to extract from Rahim more information about Fatah-al-Islam, which fought a three-month battle with the Lebanese army last year. … AKI
Regarding “al-Qa’ida”: I think it is important not to imagine it as a “Leninist” organization with cadres waiting for orders from somebody sitting in a cave in Waziristan. Some have gone to the other extreme, claiming that “al-Qa’ida does not exist”. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I like the idea that there are several “branches”, the Saudi branch, the Iraqi branch, the Algerian/Maghrebi branch, the Southeast Asian branch, the “HQ” in Pakistan/Afghanistan. The situation in “al-Sham” seems a little bit more unclear.
I don’t think that the organization has “state sponsors”, but there are probably some wealthy individuals in, say, KSA who support it.
Regarding the funding of Fatah al-Islam (as reported by Seymour Hersh), I believe that it is possible that some prominent Saudis (not necessarily Hariri) gave money for the creation of militias in Lebanon and that some of that money (or some of the weapons) ended up in the hands of Fatah al-Islam because these groups had friendly ties with each other. That is the version proposed by General Clark (as I understood it). Something similar seems to have happened in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Alex, I agree, a summary would be nice, naming names but at the same time making absolutely clear just how UNRELIABLE all this information is…
And it would be really helpful to get some of the questions about Nabil Rahim and his alleged connection to the Hariri investigation answered.