Lebanese General Security Director General Abbas Ibrahim confirmed late Tuesday the presence of elements linked to al-Qaida terrorist group in Lebanon but not the group itself, denying rumors that he received orders from Syria or the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, Xinhua reported.
The presence of al-Qaida-linked elements in Lebanon “has been proven, yet not the organization per se but members affiliated with it,” Ibrahim was quoted by the Annahar daily as saying.
The official denied allegations that the Lebanese authorities’ arrest of Shadi al-Mawlawi, which sparked sectarian violence in the northern port city of Tripoli, is related to Syria or Hezbollah.
Mawlawi was arrested Saturday in Tripoli by the General Security for allegedly contacting a terrorist group. Media reports said he is a supporter of the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
However, Ibrahim said, “Such claims are not true at all.”
Ibrahim also denied that Mawlawi’s case was motivated by sectarian or regional interests, but said that “The time has not yet come to reveal the complete story behind.”
“Our work is done in secrecy, which leads to success, and Mawlawi’s case is complicated and dense,” he said, “We have been following up on Mawlawi’s case for 13 days without informing anyone in Lebanon except for those concerned, because secrecy is an essential element of our work and this case has huge repercussions.”
After Mawlawi’s arrest, clashes erupted between the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli. The clashes lasted for days and left nine people killed and dozens injured.
Ibrahim said Mawlawi was “a party in a terrorist network, and according to the law, when there is information about anyone carrying out an illegal political and security activity, that person should be arrested.”
“Either there is a judicial authority or we are heading toward the law of the jungle,” he added.
The Lebanese army forces were deployed in Tripoli Tuesday and restored a cautious calm in the city.