Further charges in fast-food bombings

Lebanese authorities have charged a Palestinian over a spate of bombings against American burger and pizza outlets.

    A device ripped through a Pizza Hut restaurant last year

    Ali Mousa al-Masri was charged with carrying out "terrorist acts" on Monday, according to judicial sources.

    Other charges include an alleged membership in "terrorist cells" and attempts to blow up American-style restaurants.

    If convicted, al-Masri could face the death penalty.

    Yemeni national Muammar Awwama was also charged and questioned by prosecutors. Awwama is suspected of having links to Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida network, and is alleged to have masterminded the attacks.

    Awwama, also known as Ibn al-Shahid, was arrested earlier this month by Palestinian Fatah gunmen in the southern Ain al-Hilwah camp and handed over to Lebanese authorities.

    'Recent arrest'

    Judicial sources did not specify when al-Masri was arrested, but said it was recently.

    Around two dozen other Lebanese and Palestinians are also on trial in the case facing charges in a string of attacks on fast food restaurants including McDonald's and Pizza Hut. Some of them are also charged with planning to kill US ambassador Vincent Battle.

    Lebanese authorities cracked the cell after a large car bomb was found outside a McDonald's restaurant in Beirut in April. It failed to explode.

    The wave of bombings came at the height of a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation and the US-led invasion of Iraq.

    Lebanon and Syria, which has broad influence over Lebanese security forces, are under pressure to show they are co-operating with Washington, especially in its so-called "war on terrorism".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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