The 21st Century Phenomenon



Tripoli and its suburbs, about 86 km North to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is mainly a Sunni region  with about half a million inhabitants. about 30,000 (6%) of whom are immigrants from the Alawite community in Syria.  Since the Civil War in Syria breached out, in early 2011, the Alawites formed their own Militia in support for Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President and an Alawite himself. The Sunnis formed a number of militias supporting the Syrian opposition (see – SYRIAN 2011 UNREST ).


Some world wide known Jihadists like Omar Bakri Muhammad  or Dr. Salem Rafei are operating from Tripoli which became a safe haven for Islami radicals. Tripoli is also a  rear base for groups operating in Syria like the Jabhat al-Nusra (The Victorious Front). A number of Lebanese from the city of Tripoli have gone to Syria to fight with the armed opposition (see also – Shiite Arc ).


On Friday 08/23/2013, eight days after a car bomb exploded in the Hizbullah’s stronghold in Beirut killed 22 (see – Dahiya 08.15.13),  at least 47 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded after twin car bombs exploded outside Mosques in the Sunni downtown of the  Northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, according to the health ministry. The bombings are considered by many as a retaliation to the earlier bombing in Beirut. 


The first explosion hit the Taqwa Mosque, near Abu Ali roundabout headed by Imam Dr.Salem Rafei,  and killed at least 14 people there. Further deaths were reported from a second blast outside the al-Salam Mosque, in Maarad Street, which the Interior Ministry said was hit by a car laden with 100 kilogrammes of explosives. 


The imams of the two targeted Mosques were reported to be unharmed and moved to a safe location, according to a local channel. Sheikh Salem al Rafei, a Sunni cleric and outspoken critic of the regime in neighbouring Syria, was leading the prayers at al-Taqwa Mosque. 


A prominent Salafist sheikh, Dai al-Islam Shahhal, said Sunnis in Tripoli would take security in their own hands going forward, blaming the Syrian regime and its Hizbullah allies in Lebanon for the bombings. The blasts, near mosques, are thought to be the deadliest attack in Lebanon since the end of the civil war in 1990. 

The attack was carried out few hours after an pro Al Qaeda group in Tyre, ‘Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades’, claimed responsibility on rockets fired toward Isreal raising fears of regional esclation (see – Gesher Haziv 08.22.13 ).


The nombings backclashed on Hizbullah and many political leades in Lebanon blamed the organization of dragging Lebanon to the chahos of the civil war in Syria and ignating a new civil war in Lebanon.  


Hizbullah released a statement condemning the blasts and expressing solidarity with the victims, saying they were targets of efforts to fan more violence in Lebanon. 


* A suspect linked to the twin car bombs was arrested Saturday overnighth Ahmad Gharib, 40, was arrested in his residence in Minyeh, north of Tripoli. Arms, explosives and maps of the northern city were seized at his home, judicial sources said. The sources said that Ahmad  Gharib was an affiliate to the Syrian regime-backed Baath Party and had recently paid several visits to Syria. Gharib was studying Islam in Syria but then quit and became a staunch supporter of the Assad regime. 


The sources said that the explosive used outside the Al-Salam Mosque weighed around 175 kilograms. They added that the car used in the blast was a Ford and that investigators are still trying to determine if the other car bomb was a Jeep or a pickup. 


Head of the pro-Syrian Islamic Tawhid Movement-Command Council Sheikh Hashem Minkara(1) was detained, on Thursday 08/29/2013, over “withholding information” related to the deadly bombings that rocked the northern city of Tripoli, reported the National News Agency.

Lebanon has charged, on Friday  08/302013,  Sheikh Ahmad Gharib, the informant Mustafa Houri and Sheikh Hashem Minkara  over bombings. They  are suspected of forming an armed cell to attack government institutions. The Lebanese Internal Security Forces director Major General Ashraf Rifi unveiled that witness Mustapha Houri detained in Tripoli’s twin blasts came to his house a month earlier and told him that Syrian Major General  Ali Mamlouk (2) is willing to undergo explosions in Tripoli with the cooperation of Sheikh Ahmed al-Gharib.

The court also charged two Syrians, Maj. Gen.  Ali Mamlouk  and and his aide Col. Adnan, in absentia for placing the bombs outside the al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in Tripoli.



* Related topics ; 


    02/2012 -THE SYRIAN DiLEMA 







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