Pity the nation. The latest installment in the ongoing saga, the Slow Death of Lebanon. From Naharnet:
Hooded Fatah al-Islam fighters have fanned through the residential districts of north Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in preparation for what appears to be a final showdown with the Lebanese army, residents told Naharnet Friday.
Fatima Madhy, who deserted her apartment early in the day and re-settled with relatives south of Beirut, said the militants are “everywhere in the camp. They are occupying residential apartments and setting up sniping nests on rooftops.”
Madhy, 42, said that after taking refuge in the basement with her husband, four children and neighbors, “we went up to our second floor apartment and found three hooded Fatah al-Islam gunmen entrenched in it.”
“We begged them to leave. We told them that if they open fire from our apartment the Lebanese Army would shell it,” Added Madhy, her eyes brimming with tears.
“They wouldn’t listen. One of them who spoke Arabic with a North African accent told us that we better help them in the fight against the American (U.S) Army.”
“We argued that it is the Lebanese army that they are fighting, not the U.S. Army, but they didn’t want to understand. One of them said the Lebanese Government is controlled by the Americans which makes it an enemy government,” she said.
Hizbullah Leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has accused the majority government of Premier Fouad Saniora of being a U.S.-controlled dummy.
Madhy’s husband, Abdul Karim, a retired Palestinian guerrilla who fought with the mainstream Fatah faction in the 1980s, said Fatah al-Islam fighters are “not Palestinians.”
“They speak a variety of accents: Syrian, Yemeni, Egyptian, Saudi, Moroccan and Algerian. Some of them do not speak Arabic at all.”
“They say they came here to fight the crusaders,” Abdul Karim explained.
A significant, though hardly atypical, observation. Wherever there is jihad, faithful mujihadeen from around the world flock to the cause. Exactly what happened in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Lebanon. Europe, please take note.
Abi Hureira, said in a telephone interview with the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper that “sleeper cells” in all 12 Palestinian refugee camps and elsewhere in Lebanon were awaiting word for a “violent response.”
He claimed that Fatah al-Islam is “capable of transferring the battle to any spot in Lebanon.”
“We can easily do that,” he told Al Hayat by telephone from Nahr al-Bared.
He said Fatah al-Islam can launch a guerrilla war “which no army can defeat.”
Abi Hureira said Fatah al-Islam members were “highly qualified” warriors with fighting experience outside Lebanon,” adding that he himself enjoys a 21-year combating experience in various countries.
He emphasized that his group has no intentions to attack peacekeepers of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon “as long as they do not hit us.”
Abi Hureira said between 600 to 700 Fatah al-Islam militants were spread across Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps, not just in Nahr al-Bared as believed by the Lebanese authorities.
“They are (in a state) of maximum alert,” he said.