In the news 19/9/2007 – part 1

Apart from the assassination of Ghanem (see previous post), there are a number of other important developments going on here.

In the series ‘The saga of Fatah al-Islam continues’: the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (i.e. the police) have – reportedly on the basis of information obtained by interrogating captured fighters from Nahr al-Bared – made several arrests over the past few days. One of them involves an unidentified Lybian man suspected of being the technical expert who calibrated the Katyushas fired at Kiryat Shimona (North Israel) on June 17th 2007 (the only breach of the ceasefire since the end of the 2006 war, and an attack which was never claimed). Another was the owner of a ‘glass business’ which turned out to be a weapons and explosives cache in the predominantly Sunni region of Iqlim al-Kharroub. The man is suspected of masterminding the attacks on UNIFIL and possibly some of the political assassinations of the last few years. Four others have been arrested as ‘members of the same cell’. All except the Lybian men seem to be Lebanese. The army keeps combing a wide area around Nahr al-Bared, where several escaped Fatah al-Islam characters have already been captured, often in cooperation with local inhabitants who spotted them.

In related news, UNRWA and some other NGO’s will from now on be given access ‘on a more regular basis’ to Nahr al-Bared (or what’s left of it) to assess the damage to individual houses and buildings. Meanwhile, UNRWA’s plan to rent land near Nahr al-Bared to build emergency housing for the Palestinian refugees awaiting permission to move back and rebuild their homes, is met with fierce resistance from the local population, who say they don’t want ‘the tragedy of Nahr al-Bared to be repeated’… Meanwhile, Shaker al-Abssi’s wife has finally admitted she ‘may have been mistaken’ in identifying the corpse of a man in his thirties as her husband (who is 54)… The identity of the body was also confirmed, at the time, by ‘a number of Islamic clerics who had previously met with al-Abssi’. No word form them as yet…

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