Qaqa – Fatah al-Islam Connection Pooh-poohed

Lebanese sources are claiming that the Syria firebrand preacher, Abu al-Qaqa, was the religious mentor and supposed "decider" for Fatah al-Islam's leader, Absi. This is Naharnet's headline:  Fatah al-Islam's Godfather Assassinated in Syria. This claim is fanciful on the face of it. Absi was older and infinitely more experienced than the naive Abu al-Qaqa. Absi is Palestinian, Qaqa is Kurdish. Qaqa is from Aleppo. Absi is not known to have spent time in Aleppo. The contention that Absi would look up to, let alone know, Abu al-Qaqa is foolish. None of this makes sense and not a shred of evidence is offered to back it up. The claim is a last ditch means to bolster the half-baked contention that Absi and his gang of al-Qaida Sunni fundamentalists were taking orders from a secular, Alawite President who had helped America round up or kill al-Qaida jihadists in the past and who had given the order to kill Absi's son-in-law as he snuck across the Iraqi-Syrian border. Not convincing.

Unfortunately this sort of nonsense is convincing to some members of the U.S. House, which Backs Lebanon against "Boot Licking" Proxies of Syria and Iran

Read Sami Moubayed's portrait of al-Qaqa to get the best sense of the man. He explains how Qaqa was an indigenous product of Syrian malaise and why the government allowed him to operate openly. The key was that he was as anti-al-Qaida as he was anti-American.

Addendum: (Oct. 7, Sent by Alex)

Abu al-Qaqa at the office:

And at home:

Here is what he looked like this year … shaved and wearing a suit.

Fatah al-Islam's Military Commander Arrested

The military commander of Fatah al-Islam, which led a 15-week uprising against the Lebanese army this summer, has been captured in a northern Palestinian refugee camp, a camp official said Monday.

"Nasser Ismail was captured by a (Palestinian) security force in the camp of Beddawi," Abu Ali Fares, a spokesman for Palestinian factions in the refugee camp told Agence France Presse.

"The force raided the house of a relative of Nasser Ismail and found him hiding in the attic with another person," Fares said.

"He was taken aboard a Red Crescent ambulance during the night of Sunday-Monday. He was handed over to the (Lebanese) army intelligence services," Fares added.

Beddawi camp is where many of the civilians driven from their homes in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp further north by the fighting between Fatah al-Islam and the army were given emergency shelter.

Ismail's wife remains in Beddawi, where, as in Lebanon's other camps, security is left to the Palestinian factions by longstanding convention, Fares said.

Khalil Dib, an official of the Palestinian faction Fatah al-Intifada, told AFP that Ismail told him while in the custody of the Palestinian forces that he had been in Nahr al-Bared until Saturday before heading to Beddawi.

Since Nahr al-Bared fell on September 2, the Lebanese army has been combing the whole area for fugitive militants, including Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi.

Dib said that according to Ismail, "Shaker al-Abssi left Nahr al-Bared one month before the end of the battle" on September 2.

More than 400 people died in the fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, including at least 222 Islamists. One more soldier died last Friday, raising the army's losses to 168.(AFP)

Syria shuts border to Iraqi refugees – UNHCR

(Reuters) – "The borders are once again closed (to refugees)," said a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "The UNHCR will urge Syria to grant humanitarian visas."

Jordan, the other main escape route for Iraqi refugees, imposed visas a few years ago but Syria had granted Iraqis a three-month permit to stay at the border.

Under the new scheme, only Iraqi merchants, businessmen and university professors with visas obtained from Syrian embassies may enter Syria.

Syria has taken in an estimated 1.4 million to 2 million Iraqi refugees since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 4,000-6,000 refugees entering daily across the desert border.

Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, in Damascus last week, urged Syria to provide better services for the refugees and give them residency in large numbers.

Mahdi did not say whether he had asked the Syrian government to abandon the visa scheme to stop the refugee influx.

"The two countries agree that any Iraqi who wants to go to Syria from now on must have a visa first," an Iraqi official told Reuters.

Comments (59)

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51. why-discuss said:

Seymour Hersh interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross on Tuesday 2 october. You can listen to it on here

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October 3rd, 2007, 2:55 am


52. Youssef Hanna said:


Similarly, Saudi Mokhaabaraat appear to be letting jihadists out, to kill shia fighters in Iraq, on the one hand, and, more importantly perhaps, at the same time get killed.

The Syrian regime also shares common enemies with jihadists, in Lebanon for instance: namely, al 3abd el ma2mour lil 3abd el ma2mour, who succeeds, as an enemy to the Syrian regime, to assassinated Hariri, and provides jihadists at the same time with a despised model of defeatist pro-infidel moslem government.

Pls notice that, intriguigly enough, inspite of FeI being Qaida inspired, and although its jihadists fought Shia kouffars when in Iraq, there is no incident registered of an agression against a Shia objective, Shia mosques, Hezbollah fighters, innocent shia villagers, shia political leaders, in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a Syrian regime ally.

While able to operate out of Ain el Helwé in the South as proven by the attack on the Spanish convoy, or from Dahié-close borj el brajneh, where Al Absi stayed for a while after being freed, FeI settled for moving and regrouping in the Shia-exempt North.

Had they succeeded in setting their North Lebanon emirate, chances are not negligible that the U.S wd have been forced to mend fences with the Syrian regime and allow the latter to return and clean the North of Lebanon as it did in the early eighties.

A last point:

Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime have claimed that Al Absi (i) entered Syrian jail for a legal offence that remains obscure, (ii) was not extradited to Jordan though convicted in the Foley assassination, for a reason unknown, (iii) was freed and allegedly left without surveillance though a Syrian-regime chased islamist, for a reason unclear.

Were i in the Syrian government, subjected to this accusation articulated by enemies aiming at isolating it in view of destabilizing it or of attacking it, would i provide the convincing answers that maybe i have to these damning questions? sure i would, if i only could.

Best regards

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October 3rd, 2007, 9:09 am


53. ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna

Right, but do those “Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime” care if Syria is Innocent or Guilty when they always accuse Syria of each crime in less than an a one hour of the crime happening? You think you can convince a Syria-servant who switched sides over night to become a US-servant of listening to reason?

And I really adore the word you used “Lebanese Democrates”. It is the convicted Jaja, the Blood-thirsty Junblat and Harriri Jr., the Wounder Billionair Saudi kid, you meant by “Lebanese Democrates” if I am not mistaken.

BTW dont you love Lebanon’s NTV clips “Erbit Tinhal…Your slogan for life”?

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October 3rd, 2007, 3:18 pm


54. ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna

Right, but do those “Lebanese democrats hostile to the Syrian regime” care if Syria is Innocent or Guilty when they always accuse Syria of each crime in less than an a one hour of the crime happening? You think you can convince a Syria-servant who switched sides over night to become a US-servant of listening to reason?

And I really adore the word you used: “Lebanese Democrates”. It is the convicted Jaja, the Blood-thirsty Junblat and Harriri Jr., the Wounder Billionair Saudi kid, you meant by “Lebanese Democrates” if I am not mistaken.

BTW dont you love Lebanon’s NTV clips “Erbit Tinhal…Your slogan for life”?

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October 3rd, 2007, 3:18 pm


55. Nour said:

Yousef Hanna,

Again, you are merely drawing conclusions based on limited information. Basically, the only link to Syria you are presenting is that Shaker el-Abssi was in prison in Syria and was released from prison in Syria. But beyond that, there is no evidence tying Syria to FeI, and the questions you posed are not sufficient to convict Syria. Yes, Shaker el-Abssi was arrested in Syria on charges of belonging to a restricted group and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. After serving his sentence, he was released. You say that they never extradited him to Jordan even though Jordan had convicted him in abstentia of murdering American diplomat Lawrence Foley, but did Jordan ever make an official extradition request?

Moreover, if the same logic were to be used an applied elsewhere, we would have to conclude that Jordan was behind Abu Musab el-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq. After all, Zarqawi was arrested in Jordan on charges of conspiring to overthrow the Jordanian Monarchy and only spent 5 years in prison. After his release, he involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson in Amman and fled Jordan. He then returned and was arrested briefly in Jordan in 2001 and released. Why would the Jordanians release Zarqawi when he had been found to be involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson Hotel? Why would he only spend 5 years in prison for a charge that normally carries a much heavier sentence?

Yet, beyond these questions, we have no evidence to link the Jordanian government to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The same goes for Syria and Fateh el-Islam. There is definitely a crowd today that wants desperately to convict Syria of all crimes that have taken place in Lebanon, but this is pure political opportunism and emotional reaction.

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October 3rd, 2007, 4:45 pm


56. Youssef Hanna said:


I do share your view that those who assassinated Hariri have a much less effective enemy indeed in young and under average Saad; i also think Jaja deserved the 11 years, and hope as much as you certainly do that those who are terrorizing their lebanese opponents by murder, be they at the head of any state, will fairly serve as many years. However i must say i have but sympathy and admiration for the stubborn, clever, impudent, and courageous, who over twenty years drank his father’s blood in a golden cup that was tendered to him, thus survived, and entertained the flame until the advent of the opportunity for revenge.

By “Lebanese democrats” i mean whoever made it possible that:

(i) an anti-government candidate is now allowed to win elections without the results being reversed by the Constitutional court,

(ii) an anti-government tv is not closed anymore and forever if it helped anti-government candidates win,

(iii) people hostile to the government can now demonstrate or make sit ins for as long as they want, and not be beaten up/jailed,

(iv) Al Akhbar/Al Safir/Al balad/Al Anwar/Al Manar/Orange TV/NTV, etc… r now free to criticize the government, unveil plots by the U.S.A, or the KSA, or France, after journalists had gotten since 1976 the message from the Hawadess editor found with his tongue cut and his right hand burned, and protected tongue and hand for decades,

(v) politicians/activists are not assassinated anymore if they dare oppose the power in place, of the like of Kamaal Joumblatt, Soubhi Saleh, Moufti Khaaled, Nazem el Kaadri, Bashiir el Gemayyel, René Moawad, Ramzi Irani.

Best regards

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October 3rd, 2007, 6:01 pm


57. ausamaa said:

Yousef Hanna,

You almost convinced me! But do you believe that this Deomcratic Festival is being held by “Lebanese Democrates” (not Syria haters and Bush lovers)for the sake of Lebanon and not that it drives its justification and survival from being a part of the much wider Bush plan for the area? Or do those “Lebanese Democrates” believe that they can con, or use, or outsmart the Bush policy to their advantage without paying the requiered price for this temporaray tender care?

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October 3rd, 2007, 9:30 pm


58. Youssef Hanna said:


Requiring for taking action in view of an international tribunal the same level of proof that is required for the judicial punishment itself bears the practical consequence that, although they were politically neutralized and physically assassinated, yet nobody killed Salim el Laouzi, Kamaal Joumblatt, Pdt Bashiir el Gemayyel, Pdt René Moawad, Soubhi el Saleh, Moufti Khaaled, MP Nazem el Kaadri, Elie Hobeika, PM Rafik Hariri, Samiir Kassir, Georges Haoui, MP Pierre Gemayel, MP Waliid Eido, MP Antoine Ghanem, given that:

(i) with respect to politicians/journalists’ murders that occurred under the time of the Syrian regime rule, no judicial investigation whatsoever was carried under that rule, except for assassinations perpetrated by enemies to the Syrian regime, in such a manner that PM Rashiid Karamé and Marhoum Dany Chamoun are the only murdered politicians of that era who do have a killer,

(ii) a judge of the Hariri case in Lebanon wd run a significant risk of being impeded from carrying the investigation, including by assassinating the judge,

(iii) judges that were commissioned on the Hariri case in Damascus in 2005 are fortunately still alive and do not appear to be seriously running a risk of assassination, but made no further progress than Syrian regime era judges of Lebanon made (except for crimes perpetrated by enemies to the Syrian regime),

(iv) and, last, suspicion against the Syrian regime is disallowed except accompanied with iron clad technical proof, in such a manner that there is no ground for a tribunal that would be international.

In the light of the above it is the duty of all of us seeking a better life in Lebanon and Syria to suspect – i said to suspect and did not say to convict – to suspect, i repeat, the Syrian regime, (i) for murders of politicians left without investigation under the Syrian regime rule, (ii) for the murder perpetrated against a powerful opponent to the Syrian regime rule when the latter came under threat (iii) thereafter, for murders perpetrated against politicians/journalists favorable to the international tribunal.


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October 4th, 2007, 6:41 am


59. Joshua said:

Nour and Youssef Hanna,

Many thanks for your very convincing and smart debate. I am convinced by both of you. Important.
Best, Joshua

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October 4th, 2007, 2:32 pm


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