Lebanon: Jihadis fleeing to Europe

Lebanon: Jihadis fleeing to Europe

(Nahr al-Barid, 2007)

French newspaper Le Figaro says that around twenty Jihadis (FR) infiltrated Greece, Germany and France.

The new threat comes from a group of about 50 dangerous Jihadis caught between the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon and the Lebanese army.

Most are Palestinian refugees, others are Syrian, Saudi, Yemeni and North Africans who came to the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, where the army does not venture. Mostly from the al-Qaeda inspired Fatah al-Islam, they found refuge in Ain al-Hilweh, after the Lebanese army evicted them from Nahr al-Barid in 2007.

The army can't touch all those 'wanted' Jihadis. Some went undergrounds, others have impressive security forces. Some chose European exile.

Palestinian Colonel Mahmoud Issa, in charge of security in Ain al-Hilweh, told Le Figaro that in the past year, about twenty of them fled to Greece and Bulgaria, and that some of them continued into Germany, France and Belgium. Issa says they have their names and try to keep track of them, in coordination with the local authorities, but it's not easy as they sometimes change their identity and appearance.

The French security services confirm this new Jihadist flow to Europe. Le Figaro saw classified documents mentioning three names: Imad Karoum, Youssef Kayed and Ahmad Sidawi. [Ed: Karoum is the leader of Jund al-Sham, Kayed was recently deported to Lebanon]

They traveled through Syria and Turkey and from there entered Greece and Bulgaria illegally and without passports. There they bought fake ID for a few hundred dollars. Some were arrested in Sofia, others deported by the Greeks and Bulgarians. "But not all," regrets Colonel Issa.

Issa says that they are threat to European security. If they don't go to Iraq or Afghanistan like others from Ain al-Hilweh, it's because they weer told to go fight in Europe.

When asked whether it's al-Qaeda or other regional sponsors, Issa just smiles. One thing is clear, he says, these people are being used by certain powers. They do not lack money, and can stay in their homes for months waiting for instructions.

Their operational capacity might be low, but according to one security expert in Beirut, they might make contact with dormant networks of the global Jihadi movement.

A French activist trained in a camp north of Beirut already in 2005. The following year, two Lebanese were arrested in Germany while preparing an attack.