Reports published Friday in local dailies As-Safir and Al-Akhbar indicate that the al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades was planning a suicide attack targeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
According to the reports, Mahmoud Abu Aalfa, a member of the Brigades who is currently in custody, told interrogators that he had been assigned with carrying out the attack.
As-Safir quoted a senior Lebanese official as saying that Abu Aalfa claimed that a number of individuals had been tasked with monitoring all the entrances to Berri’s headquarters in the Beirut neighborhood of Ain al-Tineh, as well as certain places frequented by the Speaker.
Al-Akhbar reported that the plan was to attack Berri’s headquarters with multiple car bombs due to the strict security measures around his command center.
It said Abu Aalfa – who was detained in the wake of the Feb. 19 twin suicide bomb attack against the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut – worked for Sirajeddine Zreiqat, a commander in the Brigades.
The report said interrogators were stunned when the double bombings took place just as Abu Aalfa was making his confessions.
Abu Aalfa also revealed that other individuals, including a relative identified by the report as "Hasan," were assigned to specific missions, according to Al-Akhbar. All are in custody, the report added.
Al-Akhbar said Zreiqat has also instructed both Abu Aalfa and Hasan, who were apprehended in the Beirut area of Tariq al-Jadideh, to scan the area around former Cabinet Minister Wiam Wahhab’s house, which is located near the Iranian Cultural Center.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the double car bombing that killed at least 11 people and wounded more than 100 others.
The reports said Berri and Wahhab had been advised to use caution in light of the confessions.
Israel raises alert on northern border
Meanwhile, Israel's Maariv newspaper reported on Friday that the Israeli army has put its troops on high alert along the Lebanese border amid threats by Hezbollah to retaliate for an Israeli air strike against one of its bases near the Lebanese-Syrian border.
The Israeli army intensified its presence near residential areas in the region and instructed civilians, particularly farmers, not to approach the border fence fearing sniper attacks.
Hezbollah claimed on Wednesday that an Israeli air strike targeted one of its bases near the Lebanese-Syrian border and threatened that it will respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Lebanon's state news agency carried news of the attack. Israeli officials refused to confirm the strike, but insisted that they have the right to act.
Israeli army sources now reportedly fear that Hezbollah may target senior army officers in retaliation.
Israel warned Lebanon on Friday to prevent threatened Hezbollah retaliation for the attack, Reuters reported.
Israel has frequently promised to target Lebanon at large in any new conflict, noting that Hezbollah, an Shia Muslim militia, had politicians in the Beirut government.
"It is self-evident that we see Lebanon as responsible for any attack on Israel from the territory of Lebanon," Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Friday.
Israel is technically at war with Lebanon and Syria.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader