Lebanon claims Syria link to Tripoli bombs that killed 47
BEIRUT // A Syrian intelligence operative and a cleric with ties to the Syrian regime were among five men charged with bombing two mosques in Tripoli, Lebanese media said yesterday.
The attacks last Friday killed at least 47 people in the worst car bombing since the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. Coming just a week after another car bomb in a southern suburb of Beirut, where the Shiite group Hizbollah holds sway, the attacks have led many to fear that the Syrian civil war is having increasingly dangerous repercussions inside Lebanon.
Military prosecutor Saqr Saqr accused two Sunni sheikhs who support the regime of Bashar Al Assad of working with two Syrians to set up a "cell to carry out terrorist acts in Lebanon, particularly in the north, by preparing bombs and booby trapping cars and putting them in specific areas, including religious institutions with the aim of killing and assassinating political and religious figures", according to a statement quoted by Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper.
Sheikh Ahmad Gharib, organised the attack, according to the charges, while Sheikh Minqara, the head of a pro-Assad Islamist group in Lebanon, was charged with withholding information about the cell.
The Syrians defendants, intelligence officer Captain Mohammed Ali Ali and Khodr Lutfi Al Airouni, were charged in absentia because they had not been apprehended.
A third Lebanese man, Mustafa Houri, was also charged in the case. He reportedly tipped off the government about the Tripoli bombings before they took place, but the prosecutor decided to charge him with complicity.
All men face the death penalty in the case, which will be presided over by military investigative judge Riad Abu Ghayda.
firstname.lastname@example.org with additional reporting by Associated Press
Updated: August 31, 2013 04:00 AM