Lebanese troops continued their siege of a Palestinian refugee camp today, as new signs emerged that their target — Fatah al-Islam, a militant group that follows al-Qaeda ideology — has been training fighters inside the camp for attacks in Europe, Iraq, and elsewhere. The fighting marks the bloodiest internal conflict since Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990.
Two experts from FDD, both natives of Lebanon, argue that Fatah al-Islam, a Sunni Muslim group which emerged late last year, receives financial support from the Syrian regime and is a direct threat to the democratically elected government in Lebanon.
Senior Fellow Walid Phares:
Fatah al-Islam aims at creating an ‘Emirate’ (Islamist principality as in the Taliban model) in the Sunni areas of Lebanon, and is planning on conducting operations similar to the ones in the Sunni Triangle of Iraq. But according to the Lebanese government and terrorism experts the group is being secretly supported by the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.
Research Fellow Tony Badran:
The group Fateh al-Islam, while made up of jihadists of different nationalities, is a group that has been smuggled through Syria, and which was born out of a Syrian-controlled proxy Fateh al-Intifada. The Syrian regime has long sent the message to the West that only it could control Islamists in Lebanon (which it has cultivated and sent there), if the West acquiesces to its renewed control over Lebanon. It is a classic case of the arsonist playing fireman.