Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Lebanon
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||18 August 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Lebanon, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e524822c.html [accessed 10 July 2014]|
Overview: The Lebanese government, despite continuous political crisis and the looming threat of armed civil conflict, continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and to cooperate in supporting U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Over the course of the year, Lebanese authorities increased efforts to disrupt suspected terrorist cells before they could act, arrested numerous suspected al-Qa'ida-affiliated militants and Palestinian violent extremists, and uncovered several weapons caches. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in particular, were credited with capturing wanted terrorist fugitives and containing sectarian violence.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, despite threats from the Hizballah-led opposition, remained steadfast in his support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The STL was established in May 2007 by UNSCR 1757 to investigate the February 14, 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others, and it began its work in March 2009. After press reports indicated that the Tribunal planned to indict Hizballah members in the Hariri assassination, Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah vehemently denied Hizballah's involvement in the assassinations and vowed to "cut off" any hand that attempted to reach any of the militia's members, and Hizballah officials repeatedly threatened violence should any of the group's members be indicted by the Tribunal. The LAF, concerned about a sectarian conflict, deployed forces in Beirut and other key areas, and LAF commanders publicly voiced their intent to prevent any group from fomenting civil strife.
Several terrorist organizations remained active in Lebanon. Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, Asbat al-Ansar, Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham, the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions, and several other splinter groups all operated within Lebanon's borders. Al-Qa'ida (AQ)-affiliated extremists and Palestinian extremists operated primarily out of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps. The LAF does not have a day-to-day presence in the camps but it occasionally conducted operations in the camps to combat terrorist threats. Hizballah, with deep roots among Lebanon's Shia community, remained the most prominent and influential terrorist group in Lebanon. The Lebanese government views Hizballah, a U.S. Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, as a legitimate "resistance" group opposing Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory and as a political party that was represented by elected deputies in Lebanon's parliament and has two ministers in the cabinet.
Security along the Syria-Lebanon border remained problematic. In 2010, the Government of Lebanon did not exercise control over parts of the border. Over the course of the year, conflicting reports surfaced of weapons smuggling from Syria and Iran to Hizballah and other militant groups in Lebanon.
Security along the Syria-Lebanon border remained problematic. In 2010, the Government of Lebanon did not exercise control over parts of the border. Over the course of the year, conflicting reports surfaced of weapons smuggling from Syria and Iran to Hizballah and other militant groups in Lebanon. Reports from UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the LAF claimed there was no conclusive evidence of arms smuggling to Hizballah in the UNIFIL area of operations south of the Litani River.
On February 15, fighting involved rocket propelled grenades and automatic gunfire broke out in the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp between Fatah and Asbat al-Ansar members, resulting in four deaths and numerous wounded. On June 19, a Spanish UNIFIL patrol discovered 300 kilograms of explosives buried in the ground on the road leading to al-Wazani and Abbasieh villages. On October 26, the LAF Intelligence Bureau discovered a large weapons cache and bomb making materials hidden in a drain near Majdal Anjar.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Lebanon participated in the Megaports and Container Security initiatives, becoming the first Arab nation to complete the Megaports installation and pass acceptance testing. The Megaports program was officially transferred to the Lebanese government in November.
In 2010, significant law enforcement actions against terrorists and terrorist groups included:
On January 19, four members of Fatah al-Islam were arrested by the LAF Intelligence Bureau for plotting the prison break of Fatah al-Islam associates held in Roumiyeh prison; 14 Fatah al-Islam members were indicted, including six already in custody.
On April 19, the military court sentenced 10 extremists to various prison terms ranging from three years hard labor to life in prison for conducting terrorist attacks, forging identification documents, smuggling arms, and committing other crimes.
On June 1, the military court sentenced 14 Palestinians to life in prison for planning terrorist attacks against UNIFIL.
On September 6, the military court sentenced members of the al-Qa'ida affiliated Bar Elias terrorist group to terms ranging from one year hard labor to life imprisonment for the 2007 plot to conduct terrorist attacks by firing missiles at the city of Zahle in the Bekaa Valley.
On November 12, the military court sentenced 54 individuals affiliated with al-Qa'ida and Fatah al-Islam to terms ranging from 18 months hard labor to life in prison.
As described in the 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism, Lebanese authorities maintained that the amnesty for Lebanese individuals involved in acts of violence during the 1975-90 civil wars prevented the government from prosecuting terrorist cases of concern to the United States.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Lebanon is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). Lebanon's financial intelligence unit is the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), an independent legal entity empowered to investigate suspicious financial transactions, lift banking secrecy, and freeze assets. The SIC is a member of the Egmont Group. From January to November 2010, it investigated 179 cases involving allegations of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorist financing activities. The SIC referred requests for designation or asset freezes regarding Hizballah and affiliated groups to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Lebanese government did not require banks to freeze these assets because it does not consider Hizballah a terrorist organization. In October, the SIC in collaboration with the IMF and World Bank, hosted a MENAFATF assessor training workshop, providing training to MENAFATF experts to conduct mutual evaluations.