Smuggling Weapons to Lebanon, Fighters to Syria and Iraq: Daesh Back on Track
By Al-Akhbar Newspaper | Translated by Al-Ahed News
Whenever vetting of groups linked to Daesh returning on track in Lebanon takes place – just like the new reactivation of the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria- some Lebanese politicians assume that it is just an introduction to a political or security act against a Lebanese area for political reasons.
That is exactly what is happening in Tripoli and some northern areas these days, especially after the army intelligence arrested some people for shooting a warrant officer in the northern capital recently. According to information, the reasons are of criminal, rather than political backgrounds. The army arrested a number of people accused of being implicated in planning the process and belonging to terrorist organizations.
Over the past few months, security developments emerged about a big number of men from Tripoli and other northern areas moving to Syria and Iraq. It later turned out that they have joined Daesh. Simultaneously, parents in the city reported to the police stations the disappearance of their children, as some families said they had had received calls from their children who said that they have joined the organization in Iraq, some of which sent their families cash.
According to informed sources, 35 men have joined the organization, but this number is being argued about, for the army intelligence says that it surpasses 65 persons, while the internal security forces say that it is only 35, and that the individuals the army considered “terrorists” headed to Turkey in an attempt to reach Greece and Europe.
A coordinating meeting between the security apparatuses was recently held to discuss the mentioned issue, showing that 29 people should be chased on suspicion of joining Daesh. Meanwhile, the army intelligence presented a number that amounted to 60, asserting that some of which have reached Iraq through Turkey.
The discussions also showed that three months earlier, the security apparatuses monitored phone calls indicating that these people are in certain places in Iraq. The Iraqi security apparatuses have then been contacted, and they sent representatives to Beirut to access the data. The representatives asserted that the connection points show that the phones owners are positioned in regions that are beyond the control of the military and security forces of Iraq.
According to the information, collaboration between the Lebanese security apparatuses – atop of which is the information branch in the internal security forces- and the Iraqi security apparatuses, is underway to follow the issue of those people, after the information branch reached some inquiry, human, and technical data that say some of these people are positioned in some Kirkuk regions. The Iraqi sources have also showed that they could be in mountainous areas which are difficult to be accessed by the security apparatuses, and that some of them might be moving with groups affiliated with Daesh in some regions to the west of Iraq, reaching areas in the Syrian Desert that are close to the Iraqi borders.
The same information indicate that smuggling them doesn’t happen via Turkey, rather, most of the processes take place through Syria, with the help of Syrian smugglers who used to get about $1500 for transporting each person through the borders with Lebanon to the Iraqi borders. The men have contacts with other individuals whom they recruited. Among them there were people who had been previously arrested for belonging to Daesh, and they left Lebanon again for Syria and Iraq after their release. Some were transported by American units from special prisons eastern Syria and handed them to the Lebanese army.
It's worth mentioning that an American military aircraft landed in Beirut Airport in July, 2018, aboard of which were eight Lebanese individuals who belong to Daesh and who were arrested during military operations by Kurdish and American units in regions eastern the Euphrates. They were imprisoned with hundreds affiliated with the organization in private prisons before the US decided to hand them over to their countries. It turned out that the Lebanese army has finished the process secretly, without referring to the judiciary. It subjected the arrestees to investigation and imprisoned them for more than a month before notifying their parents of their imprisonment and before transferring them to the military court that condemned and sentenced them to a two-to-three-year imprisonment.
The sources asserted that some of them, after their release, contacted people recruited in the organization who then facilitated their trip for Syria and then to Iraq with the help of Lebanese and Syrian smugglers. During their imprisonment and after they were released, they were working to recruit youths in Daesh for financial and political purposes. Some of the arrestees admitted that the financial purpose was key in recruiting them, as the organization offers them monthly salaries above $2000, an amount that allows them to send money for their families in Lebanon.
Things developed after announcing the last month that two men from Tripoli, identified as Ahmad Kayali and Zakariah Al-Adel, were killed during military confrontations in Iraq. Many families hastened to contact the security forces in order to report the “disappearance” of their children. Some talked to local and international media about receiving calls from their children who told them they are in Iraq. Many of these youths descend from poor areas in Tripoli and Akkar, and some of them justified their escape saying they were chased by the Lebanese army intelligence due to participating in riot acts and fire shooting.
On the other hand, the security apparatuses are working on a more sensitive issue related to smuggling individual and medium weapons to Lebanese regions. Informed sources asserted that there are talks circulating about operations carried out by merchants who work on the smuggling lines with Syria, some of which are responsible for smuggling goods that camouflage weapons such as machine guns, RPGs, DShK, in addition to small and medium mortars, with large quantities of ammunitions belonging to those guns. The information indicated that the source of arms is groups that work inside Syria, some of which work in contraband inside Syria. The information also showed that the arms market has witnessed a rise in the demand during the last six months, and that the merchants get paid in dollars. Neither the place of storage nor whether they are demanded for individuals or groups are known. The smugglers are taking advantage of the weak military and security on the Lebanese-Syrian borders, where there are tens of kilometers alongside the eastern and northern Lebanese borders which are not accurately monitored, a matter that facilitates smuggling goods, individuals, and weapons.