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Hassan Nasrallah: Palestine remains the priority... and the final goal

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The message of Hassan Nasrallah: Palestine remains the priority... and the final goal

By Ghaleb Kandil

Appearing amid the crowd of his supporters, Friday, Aug. 2, on the occasion of the celebration of Al-Quds Day, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has created the event. Both his personal participation in the ceremony that his speech are messages showing the strong commitment of the Resistance alongside the Palestinian cause.
The main idea around which Sayyed Nasrallah has built his speech epitomizes all the wars in the Middle-East since the theft of Palestine in 1948. The essential message of the leader of the resistance is that progress for the peoples and the states of the region is linked to the disappearance of the Zionist entity, that Imam Khomeini described as a cancerous tumor. The history of the region confirms the relevance of this idea, which has been the strategic and political axis around which Sayyed Nasrallah has built his speech.
The purpose of all conflicts that have shaken the region since 1948, including the first Gulf War, during which the Arab reactionary regimes were mobilized to destroy the Iranian revolution and its hostile independence orientation against Zionism and Western colonialism, as well as all civil wars and deep divisions between that took place in the Mashreq, was to protect Israel. These military adventures aimed, firstly, to devote Israeli hegemony. The aggression against Syria, the Lebanese civil war, the religious tensions to cause sectarian discord, events in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, are no exception to this rule.
Sayyed Nasrallah’s commitment to this fundamental truth, under the slogan "Jerusalem unites us," is a sincere commitment to all parties and political forces to unite their ranks for Palestine. For the leader of the Resistance, the only strategic framework capable of saving the region’s is by participating, in a decisive and direct manner, to the dismantling of the Zionist entity process. This is the only way to liberate the energies of the nation to ensure its progress and get out of the era of divisions and internal conflicts.
The arrangement of priorities in the political and ideological thinking of Hezbollah is based on the fact that the conflict with the Zionist entity is the main contradiction, according to which all the strategies and resources are mobilized. The choice is that of resistance, far from the "negotiations", through which the colonizing West and Arab reactionary hope liquidate the Palestinian cause.
This is the way that Sayyed Nasrallah propose to deal with the Shiite-Sunni fitna. Without naming it, the leader of the resistance reported a role of Saudi Arabia and those who turn in its orbit to cause inter-Arab conflicts and to reverse the priorities by transforming Iran as an enemy. The purpose of the policy of the Wahhabi kingdom, as a part of under the Western colonialist project, is the protection of Israel. The aggression against Syria is the most dangerous stage of the plan, because it paves the way for the recognition of the of Israel as a Jewish state, dedicated the Judaization of Jerusalem and all of Palestine, and finally bury the right to return of the Palestinians.
Sayyed Nasrallah called for the unity of all the peoples of the region, in all their religious nd ethnic components, for the Liberation of Palestine, because the Zionist entity is a danger for everyone without exception. The alliance between the Zionist and Takfirist is an existential threat to all the peoples of the Middle-East, Christians or Muslims. The leader of the Resistance has also put his finger on the wound by calling Arab nationalist, secular, Islamist and left-wing parties to unite around the priority of the Liberation of Palestine, urging them to reject ideological and intellectual divisions.
The program and the project must prevail and not the ideological identity, because the priority is the liberation of Palestine. It is Palestine who must define alliances and it is to her that all efforts should be concentrated.

A confusing presidential speech

A March 8 parliamentary source said Michel Sleiman’s call for the formation of a neutral Cabinet, during his speech on Thursday represented a challenge to March 8 groups demanding a national unity government in which all parties are represented according to their number of seats in Parliament.
Responding to Sleiman’s remarks on Hezbollah’s arms, the source said: “The president has forgotten that all governments since the 1989 Taif Accord have approved the ‘Army, people and resistance’ equation. “Also, the resistance’s arms are concomitant with the Lebanese Army’s weapons until all Lebanese territories have been liberated, or until the Army is capable alone of repulsing Israeli aggression.”
The same source said Sleiman was taking a swipe at Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun when he said: “The Army isn’t a separate body that works independently from the state and the people, but from them and for them. But at the same time, the Army doesn’t require sponsorship bordering on subservience.”
The sources questioned why Sleiman had chosen to broach sensitive issues in a public speech unless he was trying to sound out Hezbollah’s reaction to his new stance. The sources linked Sleiman’s remarks on Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria to his call for a neutral Cabinet, part of an effort to keep the resistance group away from official decision-making. “This neutral Cabinet amounts to punishment, which is rejected wherever it comes from,” the source said.
The source also questioned whether Sleiman was confident that Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt would change his stance and support the formation of a neutral Cabinet in which some political parties, including Hezbollah, weren’t represented.
Separately, Speaker Nabih Berri said the only viable option for resolving domestic and regional crises was an agreement between Riyadh and Tehran.
“Betting on a winner or loser in Syria or in Lebanon won’t result in anything, and wasting time will only exacerbate problems in Lebanon and increase the presence of military wings, gangs, mafias and militias as well as the growth of radical, fundamentalist, and extremist groups,” Berri told Al-Shiraa magazine in an interview. “The only accurate bet is on a Saudi-Iranian understanding.”


Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General
«We, Hezbollah, stress our complete commitment to the cause of the resistance. We will remain on the side of Palestine and we remain committed to being on good terms with all Palestinian factions, even if we might disagree on certain issues. Supporters of Israel want us Shia to exit the Arab-Israeli conflict and to get Iran out of the conflict. Call us infidels, call us terrorists, call us criminals, say what you want, try and kill us anywhere, target us any way you want, we are the Shia of Ali and we shall not abandon Palestine. All of Palestine, from the sea to the river, must return to its people. No one in the world, no king, prince, sayyid, leader, president or state has the right to give up a single grain of sand of Palestine’s land. Americans and Qataris have tried to push the compass away from this priority Israel by inventing other enemies. They spend millions of their money and launch television channels to promote this so-called Shiite expansion. Where is this Shia expansionism? They invented an enemy. There are a lot of terms being used deliberately against the Shia, and the side standing behind this language hopes that the Shias will curse and insult our Sunni colleagues. But the two groups are on the same side, they are both fasting during Ramadan. Disagreements have reached a destructive level in the Middle East: discord between Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, nationalists and Islamists. Isn’t it time for the Arab nations to recognize that there is someone attempting to destroy their countries, armies, heritage and people? Everyone who supports Takfiri groups militarily, financially, through the media and incites them to fight in battle fields is responsible for the destruction and bloodshed and is doing Israel a big favor. In Hezbollah, we are searching for commonalities with other parties in Lebanon and abroad and we delay and manage disputes, some of which go beyond harming the economy and security to the point of destruction. In Hezbollah, the resistance remains alert and ready to protect Lebanon and our people and face the enemy’s dangers alongside the Lebanese Army.»

Michel Sleiman, President of the Lebanese Republic
«I refuse the game of mutual boycott, conditions, elimination and exclusion in constitutional, legal and administrative institutions. In order to protect institutions from dissolution and prevent the democratic system from erosion and retreat, and in order to fortify the Army, security and the economy, we will not languish in the cycle of waiting for long before we form a Cabinet of national balance and national interest, rather than a Cabinet of sharing political spoils. The new Cabinet should work to confront security and economic challenges, including the massive refugee influx from Syria. If an effective Cabinet in which all vital and influential political parties are represented cannot be formed, a neutral Cabinet must be formed, one that cares for all groups and all public affairs in accordance with constitutional regulations and responsibilities laid on the shoulders of the president and the prime minister. There should be no obstruction from inside the country, nor intimidation, hegemony or interference from abroad. The Army is a line of defense for the state, citizens, public order and civil peace. But it can’t fill the Cabinet and political vacuum. The Army’s mission becomes difficult if one or more Lebanese parties become involved in conflicts outside the border, which would lead to importing external crises to Lebanon. If the dualism of legitimate and illegitimate arms continues, the Army’s mission will become difficult if not impossible. It has become urgent that we study and approve a national defense strategy in light of developments in the region and the emergency change in the basic task of the resistance’s weapons, which have trespassed the Lebanese border. The time has come for the state, with its Army and senior political leaders, to be the one who controls and decides the use of these capabilities. Genuine martyrdom is only for the sake of the country and for the sake of defending its unity, territory and pride. What the Lebanese people want is to sacrifice for Lebanon. What the Lebanese people do not want is for the blood of their citizens to be shed outside the country. Gone are the days when the Army is prevented from defending Lebanon

Saad Hariri, Former Prime Minister
«There are people working to drag Lebanon into the eye of the storm, and the missiles that targeted the vicinity of the Presidential Palace and the Defense Ministry are a terrorist message aimed at undermining the symbols of the state and toppling the Baabda Declaration. We are ready then to make a sacrifice and ... not participate in the government. Why don’t you make a sacrifice, only once, especially that you are coming out of two years of a government that you formed alone, and everyone, from all communities and regions and views, saw the result of the government you formed alone. We did not give up on dialogue as a national necessity, and on our belief that policies to cancel others in Lebanon are useless. Everyone knows that the fundamental problem is the arms. And everyone knows that this problem cannot be solved at the Cabinet table. Hezbollah said it is ready for dialogue, and we tell the president: We’re ready for dialogue, at any time he calls for it. The Army’s weapons are above all weapons in the face of any illegal weapons.»

Samir Geagea, Lebanese Forces leader
«Hezbollah is waging war against Lebanon, the Lebanese and their state. I, as a Lebanese citizen, cannot accept that Hezbollah makes the strategic decisions for me. Why does Nasrallah want to impose certain principles and strategic priorities on everyone? Hezbollah is prioritizing stability in Lebanon to protect its involvement in the fighting in Syria alongside the Assad regime

Fadi al-Aawar, Change and reform bloc MP
«Saad Hariri is not entitled to impose his political opinion in Lebanon while living abroad. He does not have the right to tell those in Lebanon, and those undergoing security and economic pressures, what to do. Government participation is not a joke to have fun with, it is a matter of building the nation and drawing the strategic framework for the Middle East. The one who is staying in Saudi Arabia cannot turn us into a cinema audience where political issues are played out.»

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President
«If we weren’t confident of victory, we wouldn’t have been able to carry on after more than two years of aggression. The army showed unprecedented heroism in facing the fiercest and most barbaric war in modern history.»


• Hezbollah condemned the rocket attack againt Yarze region, saying there was no connection between it and President Michel Sleiman’s speech on the party’s arms. It said the attack was aimed at inciting internal strife. “The crime of firing rockets ... which hit the Lebanese Army positions and around the Presidential Palace in Baabda came to confirm that terrorist and criminal hands are keeping up their quest to undermine the military institution ... and to spark internal strife among the components of the nation,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

• Iran’s new president, Hassan Rowhani, vowed after assuming office Saturday to work to lift the international sanctions imposed on Tehran over its controversial nuclear drive. My government, "will take fundamental steps in elevating Iran’s position based on national interest and lifting of the oppressive sanctions," the moderate cleric said in a first address, broadcast live on state television. Rowhani was officially endorsed by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who praised the newly-elected president’s decades of service to the Islamic establishment. "The country needs a national determination to keep its distance from extremism and needs to concentrate on the rule of law," he added.

• Interpol issued Saturday a global security alert after jailbreaks linked to Al-Qaeda freed hundreds of militants, as the United States and other Western powers planned to temporarily close certain embassies over terror threats. Washington ordered its embassies across the Islamic world temporarily closed, while Germany, Britain and France were to shut their missions in Yemen for at least two days. Interpol said it suspected Al-Qaeda was involved in recent jailbreaks across nine countries, including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. The global police agency said the jailbreaks "led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals" in the past month alone and issued a security alert. The Interpol alert comes the day after Washington’s worldwide travel warning, citing unspecified plans by Al-Qaeda to strike US interests in the Middle East or North Africa in August. US President Barack Obama ordered his national security team to "take all appropriate steps to protect the American people," a White House official said. "Current information suggests that Al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," the State Department said in the worldwide travel alert for US citizens. The attacks were possible "particularly in the Middle East and north Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula."

Press review

As Safir (Lebanese daily, Arab nationalist, August 2, 2013)
Elie Ferzli
President Michel Sleiman said bluntly he joined the camp of supporters of the formation of a neutral government. The head of state did not clearly say that he will sign a decree for the establishment of such a government. However, he pointed out that he has made ​​the decision to take such action in the case it is impossible to change the situation by the presidential election next May.

As Safir (August 2, 2013)
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate held a hearing at which it heard Ambassador David Hale, chosen by the White House to succeed Maura Connelly in Beirut. In response to a question, the diplomat said that "the situation in Syria has reached an impasse and the challenge is to imagine how would Syria be at the end of the conflict." "The Lebanese and Syrian societies are entangled and that can be seen on a simple map, said Mr. Hill. The United States wants Lebanon remains outside the Syrian conflict and must expose the role of Hezbollah in Syria to denounce it. The return of Syrian refugees in their country needs a political solution. "The diplomat added: "President Michel Sleiman has demonstrated a capacity for leadership in denouncing and criticizing the involvement of Hezbollah in Syria. This also applies to the commander in chief of the army, General Jean Kahwaji, and most politicians who refuse this involvement (...). The United States should provide assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces to deal with terrorist threats in Lebanon and protect the country’s borders. In this way, the pretext of security vacuum invoked by Hezbollah to get involved in Syria, is no longer appropriate. "Mr. Hale said that" the solution to the problem of Hezbollah is not military. "" If Lebanese Army is not supported, Lebanon will become a fertile ground for terrorist groups also threaten Israel and the neighboring countries, "he concluded.

An Nahar (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition, August 2, 2013)
Rosanna Bou Mouncef
The speech of President Michel Sleiman has not denied forecasts of foreign diplomatic missions who had recently met him. They described the presidential speech as strong, and have left a positive impression, sending clear and direct messages in several directions. Political spheres consider that this was an important opportunity for the president to prove his eligibility for reappointment in the shadow of the specter of vacuum over the country. For these sources, the battle of the presidential has already begun.

Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Lebanese Resistance, August 2, 2013)
Jean Aziz
It’s hard to know where to begin commenting on Lebanese President Michel Sleiman’s Armed Forces Day speech, in which he decided to unleash a broadside against the Resistance. Everything in Sleiman’s speech – the timing, content, tone, and background – was puzzling to say the least.
At the heart of the president’s speech was not just a declaration of war on Hezbollah, but a call to place all weapons under the personal command of none other than Suleiman himself. The justifications are the same high-sounding words that have been repeatedly dug up over the years to be used against the Resistance, like security, sovereignty, dignity, rights, terrorism, trust, perseverance, and democracy.
All these words and many more were crammed into the president’s 1,500-word speech, in effect to say that it is time to announce communique number one, declaring that the time has come for me to rule.
How did this all come about? The person who wrote the speech probably thought along these lines:
- First, the West has made the decision to isolte the Resistance, which was recently turned from words into action by the EU.
- Second, the Arabs are jumping over one another to help Hezbollah’s enemies and rid them of this scourge, believing it’s the ideal moment to implement their plan against the Resistance.
- Third, Syria is too busy with its problems to lend its support. Even if the crisis there eases to some extent, it will be a long time before it is able to play any kind of role in Lebanon again.
- Fourth, Michel Aoun is Hezbollah’s ally, with growing differences between them that can be turned into a much deeper dispute, while commander of the army Gen. Jean Kahwaji is now beholden to the whims of a minister after his term extension.
And so, the circumstances are ideal to take charge: No longer will any force be allowed to stand above the army, which in turn must answer to the president to prevent any vacuum at the top.
This is the gist of Sleiman’s speech. He inflated the military to a level above all other state institutions and then reminded us of paragraph 49 of the constitution, which says that the president of the republic is the high commander of the armed forces.
As for the more profound problems facing the country’s political system, there was no mention of them. The president forgot, for example, he was named commander of the army by a Syrian officer, and later became president – in violation of the constitution – with the consent of foreign capitals.
No mention was made of the myriad social problems facing ordinary citizens due to reckless corruption at all levels of government.
One only wishes that this very same speech was made by the commander of the army, not on 1 August 2013, but much earlier, like 7 or 9 August 2001, when we were protesting Syrian rule in Lebanon – he would have saved us a lot of trouble.

Al Akhbar (August 2, 2013)
Ibrahim al-Amin
It’s hard to understand President Michel Suleiman: What is happening to him, who is moving him, what does he think about, who is advising him, who are his followers that supposedly listen to him – who is he speaking to today?
Who convinced him that he was Lebanon’s number one statesman, and that the country’s salvation was in his hands? Who told him that he had the last word, and put it into his head that the nation anxiously awaits his wisdom in order to continue?
Who persuaded him that his term as president will in fact be extended, and made him believe that he is the everlasting commander of the armed forces?
What calculations determine the steps he takes as president of the republic?
What makes his family members behave like they are superior to all other citizens, in charitable organizations, clubs, and municipalities?
Yesterday, the president offered us yet another clever innovation ..
He said: “The army’s role would be difficult if a Lebanese party, or more, get involved in conflicts outside our borders, which will lead to importing external crises to the interior … it is difficult – or better yet impossible – for the army to carry out its duties, if the duality of weapons between legal and illegal continues … it has become incumbent upon us to study and pass the national defense strategy in light of the circumstances in the region, including the imminent change in the role of the Resistance’s arms, which have breached Lebanon’s borders.”
What the president is in effect saying is that the Resistance poses a danger to the country and the security of the people.
He decided that the Resistance has overstepped its bounds by involving itself in Syria.
There is no longer any point to debating the president on this, or any other issue, for that matter. The only logic, the only language, the only concise expression that is of any use with him today and tomorrow is: It’s time for you to leave your post. Get out!

Al Akhbar (July 31, 2013)
Maysam Rizk
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri is becoming weary of his Saudi hosts. If it was up to him, he would return on the next flight to Lebanon. But it is not the security threat that worries him or that his financial crisis limits his choices. The Saudis want him to stay where he is.
Hariri does not want to remain hosted by the Saudis any longer, realizing that running the Future Movement remotely is useless. However, the guest who chose Jeddah as a place to shun his opponent who removed him from power does not have a choice. His only choice is to return to Lebanon.
But the requests of the formerly spoiled son are are being ignored by the guardians. Members of the royal family, who are "concerned" about his life, recently raised the number of his personal guards. This was understood by Hariri to mean his "vacation" is not over yet.
The message was in reply to Hariri’s wish to return to Lebanon as soon as possible. "He no longer believes that security justifications should bar him from returning to Wadi Abu-Jamil," said a source. But the Saudis were saying, "You will not return to Lebanon as long as Saudi is not there."
Some in the Future Movement are speaking about "the Saudis lifting its hands off Lebanon." Some of them say, "The country where Saudi does not pay, it does not rule." More clearly, "The country where Saudi removes its feeding hand is no longer on its political agenda." "The Kingdom is busy elsewhere, in Syria, Egypt ... but not Lebanon. Not because it does not entice their tourists, but because the fruits of their politics can be grown somewhere else."
"How could a country as big as Saudi Arabia put Lebanon on its priority list, while it goes through a delicate period? It allowed its Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad al-Assiri to take a two-month vacation."
News about banning Hariri from returning to Lebanon deserves attention in the Future Movement. According to the sources, the news, "for those who do not know its magnitude, is not a simple thing. As indicated, it is based on a general report, whose main points reached Hariri before it was seen by those concerned in Lebanon."
Away from Saudi ears, Hariri managed to complain to the delegation visiting him in Jeddah recently about the thrust of the message. He had hoped the evaluation of his politics and that of his movement would take place in Beirut.
The irony, according to Future Movement partisans, is that "Hariri is no longer convinced of the security threats against him and does not consider the financial crisis in his company (Saudi Oger) … to be enough reason to remain alienated from his audience any further."
Only the Saudis want this. In his retreat with the MPs, Hariri did not hide his longing to return to directing the affairs of the Future Movement by himself, not Mouin Merhebi, Khaled al-Daher, or anyone else.
A while ago, questions were raised in the Future Movement about the absence of Ramadan iftar banquets this year, which used to be an opportunity to meet the “zaim,” or leader, since the days of Rafik Hariri, until they were neglected by his son two years ago.
Members of the Future Movement are not demanding banquets so they can eat. It is a desire to meet their "loved one," even from afar.
This time, Hariri quickly answered their request. On Friday, he will appear live on screen during six iftar banquets organized by the movement in Beirut, Tripoli, and Saida. He will be speaking about issues related to the Lebanese situation and the Arab region in general, including the government and the dialogue called by President Michel Suleiman. He will also be speaking about the EU decision to place Hezbollah on its terrorism list, in addition to the situation in Syria.
Despite the intensive meetings with Future Bloc MPs in Jeddah and the discussions that lasted for days, it not clear yet what Hariri will be saying. He is now listening to the "advice" of Hani Hammoud, Bassem al-Sabe, and Ghattas Khoury.
Regardless of the attitude conveyed by the delegation between Riyadh and Beirut, who refused participation in a government that includes Hezbollah and rejected dialogue before a government was even formed, prominent parliamentary sources maintained that "Hariri’s discourse will be reconciliatory."
He does not have an initiative toward the other side. However, "he does not want to be confrontational when announcing his positions." He will use a soft voice when describing his feelings, as some people in his movement advise him.
The same sources also claim that "he did not use an exclusionary tone when speaking to the delegation." On the question of the government, for example, "he did not say he rejected the participation of Hezbollah in the government, he spoke about his objection to the participation of all political forces in the government."
The Future Movement’s concerns about the government "are not about participation, but the ’blocking third’ and the equation saying ’the people, the army, and the resistance.’"
As for the dialogue, Hariri and his movement are hiding behind the president. "It is true that Hezbollah is busy inside Syria, but this should not stop them from discussing the defense strategy, which is now more complicated but necessary."
What’s important is that Hariri will not be able to fulfill his desire or his audience’s wishes. They will enjoy iftar together next week through a satellite link. This is what the Saudi Kingdom wants.
Nevertheless, "his return is near, but there is no set date," he maintained to the delegation. However, it is certain that the rulers of his first home – Saudi Arabia – are weakening him more than any other internal or external party.

Al Joumhouria (Lebanese daily close to March-14 coalition)
Johnny Mnayyar (August 1, 2013)
The command of UNIFIL is deeply concerned following the decision of the EU to include the "military wing" of Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations. Despite assurances given by the Director of General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, who had lunch at the UNIFIL chef’s table, General Paolo Sierra Naqoura, fears remain for two reasons: 1-According to reports, Hezbollah has decided to suspend all security cooperation with the peace force, putting the region uncovered in terms of security. Despite the state of alert declared in the ranks of UNIFIL, the international force known that South Lebanon is a security jungle, where are all kinds of groups and terrorist cells are active. In this context, Paris had informed its contingent deployed in the South that orders would come to extremist terrorist groups based in a Palestinian refugee camp in the region to launch attacks against peacekeepers, including French units, against French Cultural Centers, and against the Italian forces and other European contingents. The aim of these attacks is to accuse Hezbollah. Reliable information indicates that France issued a warning to Arab countries that could have an indirect relationship with these groups, and ordered its troops to be more vigilant and strengthen their monitoring skills. 2-Information reached Lebanese and European security services that Palestinian organizations, hostile to the resumption of peace talks, might fire rockets against Israel from south Lebanon. This information was exchanged between the Lebanese state and the command of UNIFIL. Western capitals have also been informed.

AFP (France Press Agency, August 3, 2013)
Two Islamist Lebanese-Swedish brothers who left their Scandinavian home for Lebanon, have died fighting alongside Syrian rebels, their cousin and a local cleric said on Saturday.
Hassan and Moatasem Deeb "were killed Friday in a rebel assault on the Abu Zeid army checkpoint near Qalaat al-Hosn" in Homs province, Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP.
Their deaths have devastated their parents, who had already lost a third son Rabih to sectarian fighting in Tripoli last year. Sheikh Mohammed said Moatasem, 18, blew himself up in a suicide car bomb at the checkpoint, and Hassan, 21, died in the assault that followed.
The youths apparently did not die in vain, as the assault on the checkpoint succeeded, said the cleric. Cousin Jihad Deeb said that, although the youths had long been "deeply religious," the news of their deaths hit the family hard. "But they left everything and travelled back to Mankubeen, where their parents have been living for two years now," said Jihad.
Eighteen months ago, Moatasem and Hassan’s brother Rabih was killed fighting in one of those clashes.
The commitment to jihadist activities among family members goes further. In 2007, one of the youths’ uncles was killed fighting alongside Islamists in a fierce battle against the Lebanese army in the Palestinian camp of Nahr al-Bared. Another uncle is in jail in Germany over ties to Al-Qaeda.
Once they returned to Mankubeen from Sweden, where they had lived for several years, the young men "decided to cross the border and join Jund al-Sham," said the sheikh, who stressed that no one knew of their plans. Jund al-Sham is an independent jihadist group set up in 2012 and led by Lebanese radicals.

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