Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lebanon's Radicals? Not Hezbollah

One of the earliest posts on this blog was a profile of the radical Lebanese Sunni group, Fatah al-Islam.

(I occasionally profile people and groups who seem to be underrated players in the weird Middle East equation.)

Fatah al-Islam is noteworthy because they are a militant challenge to both the Westernish governing faction and Hezbollah, the powerful opposition party.

In June, I wrote:

Today's news that Fatah al-Islam took credit for a deadly bomb blast that killed a government troop in Northern Lebanon last week (Al Jazeera has the story) is a scary reminder about this newish and hot-headed militant faction. While Hezbollah, the Shiite militants backed by Iran and Syria, has everybody tweaked out, it's actually Fatah al-Islam that's willing to upset the urgent political compromise that cooled sectarian violence and political tensions in Lebanon last month. (Hezbollah, in fact, is invested in the political truce.)

According to this breaking report, Fatah al-Islam appears to have struck again this afternoon:

The Tripoli bombing was the deadliest single attack in Lebanon in more than three years. It left a scene of carnage at rush hour in this northern city’s crowded commercial center, at a bus stop where Army soldiers were known to catch buses to their posts farther south every morning.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but some Lebanese political figures said they believed the bombing may have been revenge for the Army’s role in Nahr al Bared, the Palestinian refugee camp. The Islamist group that fought the Army there, Fatah al Islam, has claimed several small attacks on soldiers since then, including one that killed a soldier near Tripoli on May 31.

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