Lebanon Salafis behind Syria unrest
The Lebanese sources say former Mustaqbal MP Mustafa Hashem has rented a large number of gas stations in the northern border region of Wadi Khaled, where the nomad residents on both the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the frontier are engaged in widespread smuggling.
This would bring Hashem cheap oil that smugglers steal from the pipelines stretching from the Homs refinery to the one in Baniyas and later put him in close contact with traffickers.
An attempt by Syria to stem the flow of smuggled oil drove the perpetrators into the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. Some of the perpetrators were later hired as bodyguards for radical Salafi leaders, who are mostly from the Syrian city of Talkalakh.
The Lebanese army also launched a similar campaigned against the traffickers and arrested a head of a village in Wali Khaled, who was soon released thanks to the political unrest in Lebanon.
The elements in question stepped up their activity under a religious disguise.
According to the sources, the Salafis in northern Lebanon are led by Mustaqbal lawmaker Khaled al-Daher and his brother Rabi, who are considered as the link between the US-backed Mustaqbal party and the Salafis scattered in the region spanning Tripoli and Sunni majority regions in Syria.
The Lebanese Salafi movement is also accused of direct involvement in an attack on Syrian border security station in al-Hajana and the kidnapping of three people from the post.
Moreover, the extremists have repeatedly attempted to spark border tensions between Lebanese and Syria by opening fire on the Syrian army personnel stationed near the border, and thus drawing backfire to forge a border clash.
The Lebanese sources blame a retired general in charge of Mustaqbal’s maintenance and leaders of al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam militia for distributing arms and cell phone lines among rioters in northern Syria.
Major Salafi clerics in north Lebanon have, meanwhile, engaged in providing refuge to terrorists operating in Syria, and issuing provocative decrees. Salafi mosques in the region are reportedly being used as weapons storage.
The Lebanese army has significantly stemmed the outflow of arms to Syria by identifying and arresting some of the main trafficker elements, but blood links and political affiliations across the border has left them short of putting a halt to the transactions.