Day after another, the seriousness of terrorist networks operating in Lebanon unfolded. After Naeem Abbas confessions to the Lebanese Army Intelligence, Mahmoud Abu Alfa confessions – arrested by the Information Branch – on the morning of Bir Hassan dual bombing were not less serious.
Abu Alfa admitted that he belongs to the Abdullah Azam Brigades terrorist group. Before the blasts went off in Bir Hassan, which targeted the Iranian Cultural Chancellery on February 19, he told investigators that Sirajuddine Zoreiqat, a leader of the Brigades, assigned him to monitor the security measures in the vicinity of the Chancellery and al-Manar TV building.
Investigators stunned when the blasts occurred shortly after Abu Alfa’s confessions who was hardly uttering his statement.
Abu Alfa touched on his relations with Zoreiqat, and the tasks that he used to assign to other detainees, specifically Alfa’s cousin, Hassan A. He said that Zureiqat had tasked him with developing a plan to carry out suicide attacks targeting the residence of the Lebanese Speaker, Nabih Berri, in Ein al-Tini area in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. He explored the area more than once and inspected all entrances leading to Berri’s house, adding that he estimated the durability of iron gates and its extent of resistance to explosions on the basis of size.
Abu Alfa handed the information he gathered to Zureiqat. The aim was assassinating Speaker Berri but Abu Alfa’s news feed led him to admit the goal is impossible to be achieved due to the stringent security measures.
However, their pursuit to implement the goal wasn’t affected, this was shown in the initial scheme of the operation which stated the need for a number of suicide bombers to carry it out.
The two cousins, Mahmoud and Hassan, arrested from their residence in Tariq al-Jdideh in Beirut, said that Zureiqat tasked them with exploring the home of former minister Wiam Wahhab while surveying the Chancellery and Al-Manar, due to the proximity of Wahhab’s home to the two buildings in Bir Hassan.
Security sources said that “Tariq al-Jdideh group” hasn’t have reached a decision yet to implement any security attack, but it was assigned “the information task” that paves for suicide operations. Sources also noted that Abu Alfa’s statement intersected with information previously obtained by the Lebanese security services and European intelligence agencies, stating that Berri has been put on the list of assassinations.
Details listed in some intelligence reports have even mentioned names of members of the group which is suspected of being preparing to assassinate the Speaker. This group is well known in the security community to be an al-Qaeda- affiliated group and was active in the Ein al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon city, south of Lebanon.
One of the reports sent by a Lebanese intelligence apparatus also stated that the group members will try to assassinate Berri by sniper rifle. The apparatus informed the latter and Wahhab about the available information the I.B. obtained from Abu Alfa’s confessions.
Security mediums indicated that figures surrounding Berri have received over the past months warnings that groups linked to Al-Qaeda placed some figures close to Berri and a number of key people in his working team on the list for assassination.