Death sentence on Fatah Islam chief

Shaker al-Absi says claims of al-Qaeda links are an American conspiracy.

    Al-Absi says accusations are an excuse by authorities to launch a campaign against the camps

    Fatah Islam, which is believed to have hundreds of followers, denies the accusations.


    Yasar Qatarni, from the Centre for Conflict Prevention in Amman, Jordan, said that it is more important to destablise the al-Qaeda network, not just an individual within it.


    "We should not pay more attention as we used to do on individuals within al-Qaeda," he said. "It is a network regardless of who runs this network. There will be a replacement even if we get rid of the leader."


    Fatah Islam, based in Nader Bared, are
    believed to have hundreds of followers

    The relatively new Islamist movement has said it wants to liberate pre-1967 Palestine; it supports any group that confronts Israel and rejects American policies in the region.


    The Lebanese government has accused Syrian intelligence of giving orders to the group. Syria denies this and says an arrest warrant has been issued against al-Absi


    Al-Absi says the bus bombings accusation, is an excuse to launch a campaign against the camps.


    "If we wanted to carry out an attack, we would have started by attacking UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon and not Lebanese civilians," he said. "But this doesn’t mean we have any intention of doing so."


    'Foreign force'


    UN Resolution 1559, adopted in 2004, calls on Lebanon to disarm all militias – the weapons in the camps included.


    So far no steps have been taken in this regard, and al-Absi has questioned the motives behind the UN call for disarmament. "Why are they pushing for UN resolution 1559. We don’t recognise the legitimacy of the UN," he said.


    Fatah Islam is not the only armed Palestinian faction, but most distance themselves from it.


    Samer Lubani, member of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also in Naher Bared camp said: "Fatah Islam is not a legitimate Palestinian group. They are a foreign force. Whoever brought them here should take them out."


    Qatarni says al-Qaeda-linked groups in Lebanon
    may destabilise the Palestinian government

    Like other Palestinian groups, Fatah Islam says it does not intend to get involved in internal Lebanese politics.


    Qatarni said "The fact that we hear of al-Qaeda in Lebanon and that they are starting to interfere in the Arab-Israeli sphere is quite alarming.


    "No one in the region would like to see the radicalisation of the Arab-Israel issue and conflict.


    "We listen to al-Absi denying these allegations, however, we have to make sure that we do not push them to the level of implementing their own actions in this area.


    "Especially now that we have the so-called moderate Muslims embedded in the Hamas movement who are trying to make sure that they win a legitimate seat at the table of the political system.


    "We don't want people like al-Qaeda destroying the [Palestinian] system."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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