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Lebanon indicts Syria intelligence
officers for mosque bombings

Investigations reveal that a high-level security apparatus in Syrian intelligence ordered that August 2013 attack in Tripoli that left dozens dead.

Tripoli bombing. (AFP/Ibrahim Chalhoub)

BEIRUT – The Lebanese judiciary has issued an indictment against two Syrian intelligence officers on charges of orchestrating the 2013 twin bombing of two mosques in Tripoli that left dozens dead.

 

On Friday, Judge Alaa Khatib formally indicted Captain Mohammad Ali Ali, who serves in Syrian military's intelligence notorious Brigade 235, commonly known as the “Palestine branch,” as well as Nasser Jowban, an official in the regime’s Political Security Branch for the bombings.

 

The 44-page report issued by the judge following up on the terror attack accused the two officers of “planning and supervising” the attack.

 

Not only were the two officers indicted, but an “ongoing inquiry” was also opened by Judge Khatib to uncover the identity of the Syrian regime officials who “ordered the attack.”

 

“The investigation shows that the order was issued by a high-level security apparatus in Syrian intelligence,” a summary of the indictment prepared by Lebanon’s state National News Agency said.

 

Future Movement leader Saad Hariri hailed the indictment, writing on his official Twitter account that “we have finally [arrived] at the moment of truth, in which the judiciary [issued] arrest warrants against Assad regime officers.”

 

Top Sunni figure Ashraf Rifi, who hails from Tripoli, also spoke about the indictments during a mid-afternoon press conference in which he called on Lebanon's government, which he resigned from earlier in the year, to expel Syria's ambassador. 

 

On August 23, 2013, two near-simultaneous car bombs targeted Tripoli’s Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques, killing over 40 people and stoking sectarian animosity between the Sunni-populated Bab al-Tebbaneh neighborhood and the neighboring Alawite Jabal Mohsen quarter.

 

A week after the attack, Lebanon’s judiciary formally charged five people with the attack, including Captain Mohammad Ali as well as one other unnamed Syrian in addition to two Lebanese religious figures.

 

Only one suspect charged for the crime, Youssef Diab—who hails from Tripoli’s Jabal Mohsen—has been arrested, while the country’s court system turned its attention to the purported role of the Alawite Arab Democratic Party (ADP) in the attack.

 

ADP leader Ali Diab was summoned for questioning regarding the attack a number of times, however he fled to Damascus, where he died in 2015. 

Smoke billows around the Al-Taqwa Mosque in Tripoli following the August 23, 2013 bombings. (AFP/Ibrahim Chalhoub)

Not only were the two officers indicted, but an “ongoing inquiry” was also opened by Judge Khatib to uncover the identity of the Syrian regime officials who “ordered the attack.”