TRIPOLI: The army arrested a Lebanese-Australian cleric with links to Al Qaeda while a wanted man with Swedish nationality was killed in a police raid, security officials said yesterday. The incidents in Tripoli heightened tensions in the restive northern city, the frequent scene of deadly unrest linked to the war in neighbouring Syria.
Sunni cleric Hussam Al Sabbagh, wanted for “terrorist activity”, was stopped at a checkpoint by soldiers acting on “several arrest warrants”, the army said. Angry supporters of Sabbagh, who was arrested along with a bodyguard, later exchanged fire with the army in the Sunni-majority district of Bab Al Tebbaheh, a security official said.
Sabbagh, a prominent backer of the armed revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is suspected of recruiting and sending fighters across the border.
The security official said he stands accused of “setting up an armed band and training terrorists”, and of links to Al-Qaeda and radical group Fatah al-Islam.
Hours after Sabbagh’s arrest, police raided the Tripoli home of a suspect wanted in connection with a Beirut hotel bombing last month. But as they moved in to arrest him, Monzer Khaldoun Al Hassan, a dual Lebanese-Swedish national, was killed by a grenade he was handling, a security source said.AFP