(BIG NEWS NETWORK) Lebanese authorities say they have uncovered and disbanded an al-Qaida-linked Muslim extremist gang that planned to bomb foreign embassies in Lebanon.
An Interior Ministry statement said Wednesday a terrorist group was arrested before it could carry out plans to bomb the Italian Embassy in downtown Beirut and the Ukrainian Consulate, in addition to several government centers.
Security sources identified the gang leader and alleged mastermind of the plots as Ahmed Selim Mikati, a Lebanese from the northern port city of Tripoli.
Mikati was wanted by the authorities for his part in an armed rebellion against the army in northern Lebanon on New Year’s Eve in 2000.
Mikati and many of his followers had been hiding in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in south Lebanon, which, like all Palestinian camps in the country, is outside the control of the authorities.
The ministry said Mikati admitted planning to detonate a booby-trapped car carrying 300 kilograms of TNT outside the Italian Embassy in a crowded downtown section of Beirut. He also confessed to planning an attack on the Ukrainian Consulate as well as Lebanese security and judicial centers.
The ministry statement said an investigation showed the gang was linked to extremist cells led by al-Qaida in Europe.