Beirut- Acting Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat confirmed in a newspaper interview Saturday the presence of al Qaida in Lebanon, disclosing that “we have apprehended four groups” belonging to the network.
He also blasted allegations that there was a connection between al-Qaida and the “Liberation Party”, which he said was founded long before Osama Bin Laden established his network.
“We should never combine the two matters together,” Fatfat maintained in response to claims that the Liberation Party worked under al-Qaida’s umbrella.
“I have been asked about it (the Liberation Party) in (trips to) Washington and in Egypt and in any country I visit “¦ The Liberation Party has a history that dates back to half a century,” Fatfat said in an interview with an-Nahar daily published Saturday.
He said the Sunni Liberation Party “is today politically active “¦ and that comforts me,” adding that “should it err, I will request the Cabinet to dissolve it for security, and not political measures.”
Fatfat assured that al-Qaida, which he said had “unfortunately” originated at one point from an American thought, was present in Lebanon.
“Of course (it is present),” he said “in view that four of its groups have been apprehended” in Lebanon.
Fatfat clarified, however, that the four groups were unconnected. “This is a scheme performed by al-Qaida,” he added.
“We take pride in Lebanon in being able to arrest these groups before becoming effective,” Fatfat concluded.
Liberation Party -Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami: Who is who?
The past year has seen an increasing radicalism of the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami), resulting in a wave of arrests of its members in numerous countries around the world. Arrests were made in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, and Syria. In Britain, site of the organization’s central headquarters-the government has made no secret of its intention to outlaw the Party.
Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami is an Islamic political movement created in 1953 in East Jerusalem by the “Qadi” Taqi al-din al-Nabhani, an appeals judge and senior religious figure who split off from the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1977, after the death of al-Nabhani, ‘Abd al-Qadim Zalum, a Palestinian resident of Hebron and one of the founders of the Party, took over as the head of the organization, a position he held until his death in April 2003. His successor is ‘Ata’ Abu al-Rishta, a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin who served as the Party’s spokesman for the past fifteen years.
According to its stated platform, the Islamic Liberation Party’s mission is to reinstitute the Islamic Caliphate that was destroyed in 1924 by the Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal (AtatÃ¼rk); to institute Muslim religious law (“Shari’a”); and to “liberate” the Islamic “Ummah” from foreign influence (in economic, social, military, cultural, and political terms).
There are no reports of any official connection between al-Qaida and the Liberation party.