The Arab extension of Fatah al-Islam
When the battle between the Lebanese army and the Fatah al-Islam militant group broke out on the 20th of May, pro-February 14 (supporters of Siniora and his Imperial bosses - VS) media outlets sought to exploit the incident and link the militant group to Syria, overlooking the diversity in the nationalities of its members.
Sultan Abul Aynain, the secretary of PLO factions said in an interview with the Sharq al-Awsat daily that the number of Saudis killed with Fatah al-Islam had reached 23, adding that they were all buried in mass graves inside the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, north of Lebanon. Abul Aynain also said that 20 other Saudis were still fighting against the Lebanese army in the camp. The PLO official's information crossed with what the Saudi daily Al-Hayat published about Saudi members of Fatah al-Islam, even if their numbers did not match the number given by Abul Aynain. Furthermore, burial ceremonies, during the last week of June, for dozens of people in the camp were delayed upon requests by Saudi Arabia and Tunis to retrieve their dead nationals. In a televised interview, the Minister of Defense in the unconstitutional government Elias el-Murr confirmed that Fatah al-Islam organization is linked to Al-Qaeda. El-Murr had earlier said that Fatah al-Islam was responsible for the Ain Alak bombing in Mount Lebanon, which killed 3 people and injured many others. He added that the group that carried out the attack comprised four Syrians and three Saudis, including Abdullah Bishi, the man whose repatriation was requested by Saudi Arabia.
The Lebanese government agreed to repatriate Bishi, however the approval of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud is still needed. Saudi Interior Minister Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz also called on the Lebanese government to repatriate Saudis still in Lebanese custody, among them is Fahed Meghames, the head of the Barr Elias cell, where three booby trapped cars and arms caches were found.
Moreover, three Saudis were among five gunmen killed in clashes with the Lebanese army in the town of Kalamoun, north of Lebanon last week. The two others were a Lebanese and an Iraqi.
Before the battle of Nahr el-Bared broke out, Syrian authorities killed on the 10th of last May four Fatah al-Islam gunmen on their way to Iraq, indicating that Lebanon was being used as a springboard for militants to the outside on the one hand and a resting place for the returning militants. Prior to this, the US Council of National Intelligence warned in February 2006 against the return of those militants saying they would become the new Arab Afghans in Lebanon. Accordingly, Fatah al-Islam is an organization that comprises members from various Arab nationalities, not to mention Bengali and Chechen members.
However the February 14 ruling bloc still insists on linking this organization to Syrian intelligence services, without proof or convincing facts. According to the Lebanon News Agency, eight Saudi cadres in Fatah al-Islam have been taken out of Lebanon; one of them is a financier who has close ties with Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the head of the Saudi National Security Council.