Al-Qaeda leader killed in Lebanon?

Shaker al-Abssi, leader of the al-Qaeda franchise Fatah al-Islam, was reported killed in the Lebanese Army’s assault on a the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp Sept. 2. Lebanese officials said they were awaiting the result of a DNA test before officially issuing a statement. Some 35 members of the Islamist group were also reported killed in the assault. More than 300 people are believed to have died since the army’s three-month siege on the refugee camp began. (RIA-Novosti, Sept. 3)

See our last posts on Lebanon and al-Qaeda.

  1. State Department targets Fatah al-Islam
    From the State Department, Aug. 13:

    As part of ongoing U.S. efforts against terrorism, on August 9, Secretary Rice designated Fatah al-Islam as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224, as amended. The Secretary took this action in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury. This designation cuts off Fatah al-Islam from the U.S. financial system. As a result of this designation, all property, and interests in property which Fatah al-Islam has in the U.S., or which enters the U.S. or comes under the control of U.S. persons, are blocked. This designation will be published in the Federal Register shortly.

    Fatah al-Islam, an offshoot of the Syria-backed secular Palestinian terrorist group Fatah al-Intifada, has been led by Shakir al-Absi, a well-known Palestinian-Jordanian militant who was sentenced to death in absentia in Jordan for his involvement in the 2002 murder of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley. Moreover, Fatah al-Islam initiated the recent hostilities in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon, with an unprovoked attack on Lebanese security forces in May, and used civilian refugees as human shields during the fighting. Over 130 Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in the conflict at Nahr al-Barid. This terrorist group threatens the safety and security of the Lebanese people and the region.

    The United States condemns the recent violence perpetrated by Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp and supports the Government of Lebanon and its security forces in their efforts to promote stability and rule of law throughout the country.

    The United States calls on governments across the world to take action to isolate these terrorist organizations, to choke off their sources of financial support, and to prevent their members’ movement across international borders.

  2. Shaker al-Abssi: alive or dead?
    From Lebanon’s Daily Star, Sept. 12:

    BEIRUT — Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi’s wife stood firm on Tuesday that the corpse she saw in Tripoli was the body of her husband, in spite of DNA tests showing the dead man was not Abssi, according to two media reports. “When I first saw him I was shocked by the extent of his wounds, but I knew it was him,” Rishdiyeh al-Abssi, 50, told Agence France Presse (AFP) in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I recognized his face, his white beard, his height and his feet.”

    Late on Monday she told Al-Jazeera by telephone that she had seen distinguishing wounds on his face and chin that verified his identity. “The body I saw was that of my husband,” she said to Al-Jazeera.

    However, State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza released on Monday the results of DNA testing proving with 99.99-percent certainty that the corpse was not Abssi. Mirza averred that Abssi, 52, had fled the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp on September 1, hours before a failed mass escape attempt by the few dozen Fatah al-Islam militants remaining after a three-month Lebanese Army siege of the camp.

    Lebanese authorities compared the corpse’s DNA with samples from Abssi’s wife, five of their children and Abssi’s brother in Jordan, Mirza’s report said. Abssi’s family are among 51 women and children residing in Sidon’s Al-Arqum Mosque, where Palestinian clerics brought them after they were evacuated from the battered Nahr al-Bared camp on August 23.