“The dozen Palestinian refugee camps scattered in Lebanon are off limits to authorities.” Well, there’s your problem. “Islamic militants, security forces battle in Lebanon,” from the Associated Press:
TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) — Lebanese tanks pounded the headquarters of a group with suspected links to al Qaeda in a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli Sunday after the northern city’s worst clashes in two decades killed 22 soldiers and 17
The clashes between troops surrounding the Nahr el-Bared camp and Fatah Islam fighters began early in the morning shortly after police raided a militant-occupied apartment on a major thoroughfare in Tripoli and a gunbattle erupted, witnesses
Hundreds of Lebanese applauded as army tanks shelled the camp — a sign of the long-standing tensions between some Lebanese and the tens of thousands of Palestinians who took refuge from fighting in Israel over the past decades.
The tiny Fatah Islam is an offshoot of the pro-Syrian Fatah Uprising, which broke from the mainstream Palestinian Fatah movement in the early 1980s and has headquarters in Syria.
The group is allegedly led by Shaker Youssef al-Absi, a Palestinian living in Syria who was sentenced to death in absentia in July 2004 by a Jordanian military court. Al-Absi was found guilty of conspiring to terrorism in a plot that led to the assassination in Jordan of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley. Former al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was accused of masterminding the killing.
Some Lebanese security officials now consider Fatah Islam a radical Sunni Muslim group with ties to al Qaeda, or at least al Qaeda-style militancy and doctrine. But some anti-Syrian government officials say they are a front for Syrian military intelligence aimed at destabilizing Lebanon.
As many other small factions in Lebanon, Fatah Islam’s allegiance is sometimes questionable in this deeply polarized country.
Major Palestinian factions have dissociated themselves from Fatah Islam.
The dozen Palestinian refugee camps scattered in Lebanon are off limits to authorities, and some are controlled by armed guerrillas. Lebanese troops usually cordon off the camps with checkpoints. Their presence around Nahr el-Bared increased in recent months after Fatah Islam stepped up its actions.