Lebanese and Palestinian sources said members of the extreme Fatah el-Islam militia planned a revolt in Lebanon, the London-based Al-Hayat daily reported on Monday.
According to the sources, local political and security elements foiled the plot, which was dubbed “Operation 755”.
The militia planned to establish an “Islamic principality” in Tripoli and in several other areas in northern Lebanon with the help of al-Qaeda members who fled Iraq and reached Lebanon through Syria. The extremists also planned to carry out a number of terror attacks in Beirut and nearby towns, after which Fatah el-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi was to declare his rule over a region in northern Lebanon.
Last February three people were killed in two explosions on the road leading to the Lebanese Christian mountain town of Bikfaya, the home town of former President Amin Gemayel, whose son Pierre was assassinated in November in Beirut.
Lebanese sources said the blasts were aimed at destabilizing Lebanon’s security situation and undermine its stability, adding that the perpetrators’ arrest thwarted al-Abssi’s plan. The Fatah el-Islam leader said the group would have to expand beyond Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el-Bared into other areas in northern Lebanon, assuming it would be assisted by sleeper cells.
The Lebanese sources said the constant hunt for the Fatah el-Islam militants helped local security forces expose al-Abssi’s plot and detain those who were supposed to lead the revolt.
The sources said the security establishment was able to put its hands on CDs containing detailed information on Fatah el-Islam’s plan. Forces also arrested a man who rented out a building in Tripoli in which 450 kilos (about 990 pounds) of substances used to make explosives were hidden. These substances were later used by Fatah el-Islam. Lebanese authorities traced the materials to a Syrian plant.