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25 May 2007


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Clifford Kiracofe

Additional coverage at:


(rather thin but its Newsweek after all)

"On Wednesday, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), General Michel Aoun, joined key political powers in Lebanon in supporting the Lebanese army's military intervention to end the standoff with Fatah al-Islam fighters holed in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp...."

Iranian media quote Sy Hersh:

Some video:

Sy Hersh on CNN transcript:



Are you endorsing one Lebanese conspiracy theory over another?

I don't know what you have heard about how this all went down (or, for that matter, what I think about all that I have heard), but the whole episode has a very keystone kops quality to it.

The sequence of events was so bizarre as to be laughable were it not for the casualties. As always, things are never as they seem in Lebanon -- unless they seem insane and tragic, in which case they are.

Neither the dominant narrative of the GOL (which is available in western press), not that of the "opposition" reflects what actually happened or is happening. Everybody's too busy scoring political points to allow for the emergence of a sensible solution to the crisis. Maybe they are taking a cue from the Americans in this regard. That, at least, would explain the airlift.


This is incendiary stuff. I assume by printing the link to this article, which I'd seen referenced elsewhere, you are giving it your okay. I would never have linked to it or mentioned it without someone of your credibility saying the charges are reasonable and worth considering.

Lebanese are going to be howling about this one. My cousin has a brother-in-law stationed at Naher el-Barid camp; the man is "high up" and happened to be in Beirut when the attack happened. (My suspicious mind wonders about that but I held my peace)

My cousin and his wife and family are all very supportive of the Lebanese army and feel they have to "show the camps that they cannot be armed or attack Lebanese military." My cousins are loyal Lebanese patriots, (And American patriots too, they have dual citizenship and live here). You can imagine their feelings upon hearing of the attack on the Lebanese soldiers by the militia, decapitations of soldiers, etc. They are very angry and ready for the Leb. gov't to do anything to retaliate.

The Welch Club theory makes it all look like a gigantic double-cross - of Lebanese soldiers as well as Palestinians.

I will be linking to your site, again, on this topic. This may get me in trouble among my Lebanese readers and relatives.


So now the Administration supports Islamic fundamentalist mercenaries by proxy? Basically a Lebanese terrorist group intended to go after hezb.

'Over a year ago Hariri's Future Movement started setting up Sunni Islamist terrorist cells (the PSP and LF already had their own militia since the civil war and despite the Taif Accords requiring militia to disarm they are now rearmed and itching for action and trying hard to provoke Hezbollah'

W. Patrick Lang


It seems evident to me that the US is "fooling around" in Lebaneses politics and is determined to make it impossible for Hizbullah to have a greater role in Lebanon.

Tell me why I should not think this is a plausible theory employing Lang's analyiti toolset. pl

Cloned Poster

Pretty much a mess. I note Condi saying "US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reiterated Washington's support for the Lebanese government. She said gunmen in Nahr al-Bared were trying to destabilise a democratic government."

Iran-Contra in spades redux.


There could be a military reason to "cleanse" the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

- U.S. use of Incirlik air base is endangered by a possible U.S.-Turkey conflict over the Kirkuk referendum, i.e. a Kurdish state and seperation of Turlish Kurds.

- Rene Mouawad Air Base in north Lebanon is the only good alternative in the wider area (3000m paved runway, currently deserted, lots of space around.)

- The only good line of communication to Rene Mouawad Air Base runs from Tripoli (Lebanon) harbor some 15 miles north to the base.

- The Nahr al-Bared refugee camp sits right on top of that LOC - 10 miles north of Tripoli, 5 south of the air base. 45,000 Palestinian refugees on both sides of the connecting road?

Can't have that.

(Some map links here)

Clifford Kiracofe

"A message was posted to a password-protected jihadist forum today, Wednesday, November 29, 2006, containing an announcement by the Fatah al-Islam Movement, in which the group announces that it has split from the “apostate seculars” of Fatah. Described with pious characteristics and manners, Fatah al-Islam observes jihad as the only means of victory and liberation for the Palestinian people. Their message was distributed to the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Muslims are encouraged to join their ranks and training camps because victory requires the “complete effort” of the Muslim Nation. The message also states: “Know that our goal is fighting the Jews and all who support them from the Zionist Crusaders of the West and liberating our sacred. So get out of the way. Don’t be the first to defend them. We warn everyone who wants to hurt our movement, because by Allah we did not take this step but only wishing for martyrdom”.

According to media reports, two-hundred Arab militants arrived in Lebanon at a Palestinian refguee camp in the north, and joined the Fatah-Intifada movement. They soon announced their split, and are purportedly headed by Shaker Issa, a former Fatah official who had previously been expelled from the group."

Less than a month ago, according to a militant spokesman, Syrian security forces allegedly killed four members of Fatah al-Islam (including two senior military commanders) "while trying to get into Iraq to support their Islamic brothers." The clash was hardly a well-orchestrated Syrian intelligence operation--according to Fatah al-Islam, at least five Syrian soldiers were killed in the process. Lebanese Internal Security Forces have also reportedly uncovered evidence of links between Fatah al-Islam and four suspects in the February 13 twin bus bombings in Ain Alaq, which killed three people and wounded 24 others. Allegedly, authorities were able to trace phone calls made by a prime suspect in the bombings to the main office of Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Bared camp."


So Michael Young of the Beirut Daily Star (a leading Lebanese Neo-con reporter) claims that Sy Hersh was duped by pro-Syrian propaganda.

Colonel Lang, in case you get some new readers due to this Lebanese crisis, could you speak to the question of Syrian propaganda? How likely are you to fall for it? (I don't think you are a Syrian dupe, I'm asking for the record)

Basically, the Lebanese neo-con blogosphere and associated reporting (which echoes in the mainstream media) say that any suggestion that the US is involved is sign of Syrian propaganda. They claim that Syria is behind all of this and wants to "burn LEbanon." This is what my cousin emailed me just now.

What do you think? How accurate do you think this Lamb report is?


*I* know your expertise in this area. It's a rhetorical question. I just wanted to draw you out on your credentials, for the sake of newcomers, so they know that you know whereof you speak. I am sorry to offend.


josh landis' syriacomment.com also gives the lamb counterpunch link. it has the ring of authenticity to it.

the only missing link from the Welch Club is of course, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Hariri, JaJa (the Hakim, med school dropout Gaegea) and Jumblatt, the one with the intemperate mouth. What a trio to lead Lebanon. I would take Michel Aoun over them anyday.

Clifford Kiracofe

The Lamb article appeared in the Palestine Chronicle, 24 May.

It appeared, 25 May, in the Turkish Weekly, a product of a serious research institute in Turkey,
"Established in 2004, the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO - USAK) has gained wide recognition as the Turkey's foremost source of independent and balanced information and research on a broad range of issues affecting Turkey and its region."

The Bush Administration has made it quite clear, from the Decider on down, that US policy supports the Siniora (Hariri) government.
Per the Saudi's man, the late Rafik Hariri see:
Someone once mentioned to me Hariri bought up a lot of property in traditionally Christian areas, is that true?

While the Bush Admininstration opposes HB, the American public is not generally informed by the newsmedia that Christians following General Aoun are in what one might call a political alignment (tactical? strategic?) with HB. Christians aligned with Shia? with HB? can't write that up, why what would American Fundamentalists say?

American policymakers betray Lebanon? Well, they betray their own country day in and day out without a second thought; so what is Lebanon to them one might ask?



Thanks for the reply and the tool set. The problem on my end is not establishing the plausibility of such a theory. It is rather that it seems of such of a high probability that I experience some discomfort and begin looking for the exits in the form of alternative explanations.

The pattern of the last week (and really the last two years) suggests not only that the Americans are “meddling” in Lebanon, but also that they and their Lebanese allies may very well be going for broke in the near future. When I get this far along, however, I start a rethink: did I see design where I should have seen accident? Are the Americans, or the Saudis or their Lebanese allies really this clever, or alternatively this stupid? Experience tells me no, but I cannot get the feathers out of my eyes or the quacking out of my ears. Please tell me it is not a duck, because I don’t want to believe they want to do it again in Lebanon.

Short of that, I try and comfort myself with the possibility that they just want Hizbullah boxed in, but given the US and Israeli performance last summer in Lebanon, I doubt in the extreme that the pair are capable of the subtleties that would require. Here, it is probably worth rethinking the Israeli bombing pattern last summer. From a military point of view, it seemed senseless, but if it was designed with political objectives in mind, it might be judged just short of a total success.

The missing piece in my puzzle is Iran. Are the US and Israel content with diplomacy, covert action, and proxy war or will they go for all of it? I just don’t know. I fear the worst this summer, but maybe that is just where the Kissingers (both the American and Syrian versions) want me.


An interesting piece of information is the Shaker al-Abssi connection to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It could explain all the foreign fighters in the camp. The whole affair reminds me how the jihadi camps in Afghanistan got started in the 80s. With Bandar Bush behind the scenes.


went into the source code and pulled the link to the raw story seymour hersh cnn interview and transcript

Clifford Kiracofe

Robert Fisk's take, 23 May:
"But the men who set up their grubby little office in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, some of them fighters from the Iraq war, others from Yemen, Syria or Lebanon itself, were far more dangerous than America and Israel believed the Hizbollah to be.....Perhaps the Americans might have learnt something about this if they had not two years ago insulted the Syrians for allowing fighters into Iraq - at which point, the Syrians halted all military and intelligence co-operation with the US."

Fisk reporting from the camp, 24 May:
"....shot by two gunmen from Fatah al-Islam because he was a PLO supporter. "His family and one of their families had quarreled about ideology," his father told me. "So they shot him and killed two other men. They are a terrorist organisation and we don't know what they want."

Early item in Le Monde 8 Dec 2006:
Des djihadistes viseraient 36 personnalités antisyriennes au Liban
Article publié le 08 Décembre 2006
Par Philippe Bolopion et Mouna Naïm
Source : LE MONDE
Taille de l'article : 406 mots
Extrait : Selon des sources palestiniennes et libanaises, un commando d'une cinquantaine de militants affiliés à Al-Qaida et ayant combattu en Irak s'est infiltré au Liban, via la Syrie, pour y perpétrer « un complot terroriste de Damas visant à assassiner 36 personnalités libanaises antisyriennes ». Ces informations sont contenues dans un document confidentiel - dont Le Monde a pu prendre connaissance - adressé, le 1er décembre, au quartier général de l'ONU par un haut fonctionnaire de l'organisation déployée dans la région."

Clifford Kiracofe

Interesting interview with details per Hariri family issue Lamb raised:
"...sometimes groups that the government were complaining about turned out to have been funded by the Hariri family, for example Asbat al-Ansar and Jund as-Sham in Ain al Hilweh refugee camp, some of whose members later joined Fath al-Islam...We don't have evidence that the Hariri family did specifically fund Fath al-Islam...What we know for a fact is that over the last several years, since 2000, and specifically since 2005 during the parliamentary elections, the Hariri family spent lavishly, especially in northern Lebanon to recruit among the extremist, fundamentalist Sunni organizations..Some of the people in Fath al-Islam who are fighting now were released in an unprecedented amnesty in 2005 insisted on by the Hariri family because they wanted to win favor among the Sunni fundamentalist organizations in Tripoli. So it is very likely that some of these people are beneficiaries of Hariri largesse in the area of northern Lebanon. But that doesn't mean that the Hariris knowingly financed Fath al-Islam, although we know that they funded fanatical Sunni groups some of whose members later joined Fath al-Islam...In an interview on Al-Arabiya television on May 23, the Lebanese defense minister, Ilyas Murr, stated that of the several dozen fighters killed in the battles, not a single a fighter is identified as Palestinian. He said they are mostly Lebanese, Saudi, Yemeni, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan and so on.After the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, the Hariri family did not trust the existing state security and intelligence forces, so with supervision and funding from the United States as well as Saudi, Jordanian and UAE support, they established their own quasi-militia called the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. They also established something called Jihaz al-Ma'alumat, the Intelligence Apparatus, which does not have a mandate to exist under Lebanese law. Be that as it may, they are now the most important security and intelligence forces in Lebanon and they are marginalizing all the others...."

Lamb updates story 26 May in Counterpunch:

The Council on Foreign Relations' take, so far:
(rather thin)

compare with Wiki:

McClatchy 25 May barely pieces something together with a camp dateline:
"Interviews with several factional leaders and fleeing Nahr el-Bared residents at the nearby Baddawi camp, where thousands have sought refuge, paint a starkly different picture of the shadowy group believed to have links to al-Qaida. They say radical Islamists from as far away as Pakistan and Somalia set up shop at Nahr el-Bared in the past year."

Washington Post 21 May with Tripoli dateline:
(Presumably these reporters could check out some of the details in Lamb's original story such as: "The leaders were provided with ocean view luxury apartments in Tripoli where they stored arms and chilled when not in Nahr-al-Bared. Guess who owns the apartments?")

A Manila newspaper gives its readers some details:
"It is not a Palestinian group, although it has established its base in Nahr al-Bared. Most of its members are Islamists of varying Arab nationalities...They had new weapons, not the common ones ... they had Kalashnikovs, and even small M16s, Belgian rifles or weird-looking rocket-launchers...most of the Islamist extremists wore long, Pakistani-style tunics and had long hair and beards... Lebanese army intelligence, which keeps close watch on the camps from positions around the area, “knew very well who they were and where they were.”

Question: Is the military aid the US and others are now sending going to go to the Lebanese Army? or to the Hariri security apparatus (allegedly US-Saudi-Jordanian-UAE backed)? or just what?


How would it benefit Jumblatt, a Druze, to support Sunni Islamicists who would probably kill Druze for fun? For that matter, I wouldn't want to be a Christian and live next to this group.

Clifford Kiracofe

The American stenographer corps does seem to be having a spot of bother reporting, let alone attempting "news analysis," on the details of the current Lebanon situation.

Some snippets per the bad guyz:

"Ahmad Musalli (an expert on Islamist movements from AUB) appeared on AlJazeera to comment on the developments. He believes that Saudi Arabia and the Hariri family (he was less explicit than I am here, but it was clear what he meant) were behind arming and financing the Al-Qa`idah groups in the Middle East (and he lists Fath-Al-Islam as an affiliate of Al-Qa`idah) and that Saudi Arabia changed its strategy after an Saudi-Iranian agreement that sought to diffuse Sunni-Shi`ite tensions in the region. He believed that the Iranian-Saudi agreement changed the status of Fath-Al-Islam (in the eyes of Hariri Inc) from friend to foe."

[also AngryArab blog]"For conspiracy theorists. This news item says that Bahiyyah Al-Hariri called Walid Jumblat and told him "that Jund Ash-Sham in `Ayn Al-Hilwah camp, does not belong to Fath-Al-Islam, and that it is different from it. And Jumblat expressed interest in those clarifications."
(what is Sidonia News and could an Arabic speaker give some details on this item?)

[also AngryArab blog] "Ahmad Fatfat, the indispensable Lebanese Minister of Sports, Youth, and Chess, denied that he held meetings with Shakir Al-`Absi (the leader of the Fath-Al-Islam gang). Fatfat, as is well-known, has maintained ties with the fanatical Salafi groups in North Lebanon."

Meanwhile, on cue (?), per Bush43's pro-Hariri and anti-Syria line, Syrian "opposition leader" to visit DC. Glad hand Congress persons, do the editorial board meeting with the Washington Pest and etc. one might surmise.

"Khaddam hired the good offices of Sandra Charles to lobby for him and obtain access for a high profile visit he'd like to make to Washington.
Sandra Charles is on a substantial retainer with the Hariri family (from father to son) Her group has one of the more potent rollodexes in Washington, and she was amongst Brent Scowcroft's most able advisers (she sat on G W Bush's NSC) She also does limited work for Bandar .She is friends with Amal Mudallali, a Hariri, who is Saad's point woman in Washington, having served his late father.
If our government (US) chooses to work with this slug, I believe that we have slipped to a level I did not think possible. Perhaps we should grant citizenship to the assassins of Ambassador Francis Meloy and Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring!"

Clifford Kiracofe

Iranian media reports:
"According to a Lebanese think-tank, the so-called Fatah al-Islam militant group was formed by the leaders of the Future Movement including Saad Hariri, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Junbalat and the leader of the Lebanese forces, Samir Geagea....The think-tank also said the Fatah al-Islam chief has held several meetings in recent weeks with Hariri, son of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri, and added that Junbalat and Geagea attended one of the meetings. .. After the Fatah al-Islam militant group rejected being controlled by a paramilitary member of Geagea's party, the group came under financial boycott," the expert said.
"As a result, Lebanon's intelligence agencies, with Hariri's consultation, decided to pound the group before it got informed of the plot behind the scene," he continued."

"Up to now four Saudis have been killed in the ongoing clashes between the Lebanese army and the Fatah Al Islam group, but they have yet to be identified,’ the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Abdul Aziz Khoja....Kohja told Al Hayat that Islamic militants from across the Middle East are members of the group under siege in the Nahr Al Bared camp near the port city of Tripoli...
We have learnt there are Saudis, Syrians, Lebanese, Algerians and people from other nationalities amongst Fatah Al Islam, and they follow Al Qaeda’s ideology,’ he said.

Does the Lebanese Army really need the current planeloads of military supplies to deal with the 300 Fatah al Islam psychopaths-thugs [takfiri salafis/off the charts and reservation Wahhabis/Ibn Taymiyya-ists/jihadis/neo-Taliban or whatever the descriptor for this sewage?]

Clifford Kiracofe

A lobbyist for the Welch Club? The "Syrian" Chalabi?

"Syrian exile and opposition leader Farid Gadry, of the Syrian Reform Party, is expected to visit the Knesset. He was invited by MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), former chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

"...a "discredited businessman from Virginia" who is "Syria’s version of Ahmad Chalabi" by Robert Dreyfuss April 17, 2006, in The American Prospect, Ghadry is "a secular, pro-democracy Sunni from a majority-Sunni country. He is charming and articulate, enjoys driving his kids to soccer practice, and favors a Syrian peace with Israel," Elizabeth Eaves wrote February 7, 2005, in Slate. ...Ghadry is a member of AIPAC..."Ghadry wants to be the Chalabi of Syria," Perthes said. "Chalabi is a role model for Ghadry."."Reform Party of Syria's Farid Ghadry has been a featured speaker at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and is himself a member of AIPAC. When repeated calls to his organization went unanswered, [Schuh] visited the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the RFP. Reform Party of Syria is the office of 'super-Zionist' lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Middle Gate Ventures, Abramoff's 'political advisory company' partners with RFP," Schuh wrote. ...."

"Ghadry has made campaign contributions to Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, and Eliot Engel (D-NY), who has served on the same House Subcommittee, for several years...
Ros-Lehtinen and Engel have "spearheaded the anti-Syrian legislation in congress."



I should have made it clear:

I do not find it credible that a Druze leader or a Christian warlord would support Salafi militants.

The others are playing with fire: serious blowback potential here.

So: I don't find it credible, but if it turns out to be true then it is truly idiotic.



here is a rough translation of the sidonia news item. never heard of sidonia news before, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. still its quite an odd item, very short:

“Democratic Union” president MP Waleed Junblatt received a phone call, after his press conference yesterday, from MP Bahia Al-Harriri. She clarified that the “Jund Al-Sham” group in the Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp does not have ties to the “Fath Al Islam” gang and is a different entity. Junblatt was receptive to these clarifications.
The “Democratic Union” president also received a call from the President of the future movement, MP Saad Al-Harriri wherein they discussed the ongoing state of affairs...

Clifford Kiracofe

"Here in the camp [Bedawi], residents forced the radical group Fatah al Islam out when its fighters tried to establish a foothold there late last year. The militants then went to the Nahr el Bared camp a few miles away, establishing a paramilitary base there."

"Three of the four were foreign, he said, saying he could tell from their accents that one was from Saudi Arabia, one was from Yemen and one was Sudanese. He said he couldn't tell where the fourth was from. When he finally managed to escape, he said, he stepped over their bodies.... The evidence that foreigners were in the camp has been there for months. Between 60 and 70 foreigners came to Lebanon during the war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer, according to Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, the commander of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces. They arrived under the aegis of Fatah Intifada, a group set up by Syrian intelligence in the 1980s in an attempt to hijack the Palestinian cause for Syria's own purposes, he said...about half of the militants in Nahr el-Bared fought in Iraq, Rifi said...The money for the fighters comes from local criminal activities, such as bank robberies -- one of which sparked the current standoff -- and support from gulf countries and "local politicians," said a senior regional military source. "They're part of the global jihad," he said.

"Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst, says the group is trans-national and that many of the fighters have fought in Iraq and have trained in camps in places such as Jordan...
However, he says that it is telling that a third of those who have been killed in the fighting at Nahr Al Bared have been Lebanese, who are the biggest component in the group."

"“ But one thing is strange, even though they don’t do any work, they appear to be flush with cash in a camp that is inhabited by poor people".He added : They never bargain and always pay the top price for whatever they buy, which is alien to the culture of the Palestinian and Lebanese people". He asked" where is the money coming from ? Who finances these people?...They even brought with them Belgian arms that appear to be very modern and expensive.” He said
“The militants dress like they do in Pakistan and Afghanistan and they grow long hair and beards , totally different from the way the Arabs dress”. He said...There are some Palestinians amongst them but the large majority are not; they are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria & Syria . They all appear to have fought in Iraq. They are totally different from Fatah mainstream people."

"By the way, even the military commander of Fath-Al-Islam, Abu Hrayrah (his real name is Shihab Al-Qaddur) is not a Palestinian. He is a Lebanese from `Akkar."

"It is very clear that all Palestinian groups (including the organizations that act on behalf of the Syrian regime, like the PFLP-GC) have contempt for Fath-Al-Islam, and have only antipathy to its ideology and practice. So why is the Nahr Al-Barid refugee camp being punished? The Fath-Al-Islam established itself in the camp with LEBANESE help, and not Palestinian help. Abu Jaber in the camp today told me that the residents of the camp clearly want to get rid of the Fath-Al-Islam gang: he is right in calling for "those who brought them in, to take them out." Also, information is circulating in the Lebanese press to the effect that those fanatical fighters (mostly Saudis and Yemenis) came to Lebanon through the Lebanese airport."

Now here is the latest "analysis" (or is it agit-prop?) from the Council on Foreign Relations:

"Former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk tells CFR.org’s Bernard Gwertzman that at the root of this episode lies Lebanon’s inability to control its territory." etc.

W. Patrick Lang


You are underestimating the conspiratorial perfidy of Lebanese politicians. pl

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