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Lebanon issues arrest warrant for
suspected terrorist sheikh

BEIRUT - Military Investigative Judge Nabil Wehbe Sheikh issued an arrest warrant for Beqaa sheikh Omar al-Atrash, who is accused of belonging to a terror group, the National News Agency reported Tuesday.

 

Atrash--a cleric registered with Lebanon’s Dar al-Fatwa Sunni organizing body and the imam of a central Beqaa mosque--is accused of helping suicide bombers cross from Syria to Lebanon, preparing suicide belts and car bombs, assaulting the army in South Lebanon’s Majdelyoun, and shooting missiles at Israel.

 

He is also accused of being a member of the same group as Palestinian Ibrahim Abou Moeleik, who was killed by the army as they attempted to arrest him for involvement in a number of terrorist operations.

 

Abou Moeleik belonged to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and had close ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

 

He allegedly coordinated with ISIS’ chief in Syrian’s Qalamoun, in order to help suicide bombers infiltrate Lebanon and execute terrorist operations.

 

Lebanon's army last week announced that Atrash confessed to forming a terror cell as well as facilitating the transfer to Beirut of explosive-rigged vehicles that were later detonated.

 

The Sunni sheikh also confessed to being linked to figures in the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, ISIS, and Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon terror groups, all of which have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly car bombings that have rocked Shiite-populated areas of Lebanon in recent months.

 

According to his relatives, 24-year-old Sheikh Atrash was born and raised in the Western Beqaa town of al-Marj before returning to Arsal with his family about 12 years ago. He subsequently studied Islamic jurisprudence at the Beqaa Azhar.

 

Those who know him say that he was poor prior to the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011 and traveled around on a motorbike barely worth $400.

 

However, a short while into the uprising, he started distributing humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Arsal's camps. At this point, he started displaying signs of wealth and replaced his bike with a 4x4 worth more than $20,000.

 

Atrash was arrested on January 22 and was brought to the Ministry of Defense for interrogation.

Atrash is accused of helping suicide bombers cross from Syria to Lebanon, preparing suicide belts and car bombs, assaulting the army in South Lebanon’s Majdelyoun, and shooting missiles at Israel.