Posted by Joshua on Monday, October 1st, 2007
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82FgAoecBiM
And at home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TmBUJDAVv0
Here is what he looked like this year … shaved and wearing a suit.
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)
(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.