A few days ago, sources with links to takfiri groups operating in the Qalamoun region in Syria leaked information that major operations are being planned against Hezbollah in the coming few days. Security agencies circulated information about a plot involving suicide bombers and members of al-Qaeda that was meant to target Dahiyeh – Beirut’s southern suburb – in the coming three days. The plot’s climactic event was meant to take place during the speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Sunday afternoon to commemorate the anniversary of the martyred leaders of the Islamic resistance.
Although the security agencies pursuing these groups were already on high alert last week, sensitive information about the imminence of the plot’s execution prompted strict monitoring operations which allowed them to determine that the whereabouts of Naim Abbas, a leading figure in the operation, was in Tariq al-Jdideh on a street that connects the neighborhood to the Corniche al-Mazraa area. In a morning raid that took place at 6:30 am, Abbas was found with another person, a Lebanese national, who confessed during investigations that he is a suicide bomber receiving instructions from Abbas to set off a car bomb in Dahiyeh yesterday.
The expression “big catch” is often used to underscore the importance of a person arrested by a security agency but it is hard to find someone to whom this description would apply more aptly than Naim Abbas.
The leading figure in al-Qaeda in Lebanon was arrested by the army’s intelligence directorate yesterday. He has a treasure trove of information that would require a lot of time to extract. More importantly, arresting him gave immediate results. His arrest, and subsequent confession, prevented a series of bombings and rockets planned to target civilians in Dahiyeh.
It is a huge achievement for the army and its intelligence directorate which carried out the operation covertly yesterday after taking every possible measure to protect the life of this “big catch.” Abbas is so dangerous that security officials who have monitored fundamentalist movements in Lebanon for more than 15 years could not believe at first that he would risk his life moving around Beirut and Dahiyeh.
But Abbas is truly in custody and before long he began to confess to what he knows. From the first moment of his arrest, he was in a state of shock that led to his collapse according to security sources. He was faced with voice recordings and evidence that accelerated his confession under investigation. He confessed to investigators about the bombings in Dahiyeh in the past weeks, that he was in charge of choosing the target, receiving the booby-trapped car, the suicide bomber, determining the road he would take, and driving him to the outskirts of Dahiyeh. For example, Abbas gave the suicide bomber, Qutaiba al-Sattam, the car near Spinneys supermarket in the Wata al-Mousaitbeh neighborhood. He pointed out that the Choueifat bomber is the only one he chose, recruited, and prepared his operation from A to Z.
He did not only tell investigators about previous operations but about future ones as well. The car that the army found yesterday in Corniche al-Mazraa was prepared to go off yesterday in Dahiyeh. The army also arrested, according to security sources, the suicide bomber (known by the initials M.M,. from North Lebanon carrying a fake ID under the name of a young man from the town of Taalabaya in the Bekaa) who was supposed to drive it.
Just as important as thwarting the car bombs, is foiling a plan to strike Dahiyeh with rockets from the hills overlooking the area. Abbas intended to carry out the operation on Sunday to coincide with Nasrallah’s speech and a number rockets that were supposed to be used were found in the nearby Chouf towns of al-Saadiyat and al-Dibbiyeh.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.