French president Nicolas Sarkozy might think twice about his state visit to Damascus Sept. 3-4 if a letter from a certain Omar al Beiruti, self-styled al Qaeda chief in Lebanon, to Osama bin Laden came to his notice.
He would then realize that his Levant policy, endorsed by the Bush administration, was a hopeless endeavor.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources, who have accessed the 12-page missive from Omar al-Beiruti, quote some relevant passages:
“It is time for you, Osama bin Laden, to understand that al Qaeda in Lebanon has reached a vantage point for assuming the role once filled by the (pro-Western) Sunni leaders in Lebanon, the late Rafiq Hariri [the former Lebanese prime minister assassinated allegedly by Syria in February 2005] and his son, the Lebanese majority leader Saad Hariri. The situation is ripe for al Qaeda to unite the Sunni Bloc under the flag of jihad.”
What needs doing now, says the writer, is for us to seize control of the Syrian and Iranian spy networks which have cut deep into the Sunni establishment in Lebanon. Once that is done, we can occupy a leadership position in Lebanon.
“Now is the opportune moment for this move because Lebanon is torn by an ideological conflict with none of the contestants, the Syrians, the Iranians or Hizballah, capable of tipping the scales in its favor.”
The writer takes the unusual liberty in communications from field operatives of suggesting that al Qaeda’s leadership may have a distorted view of the Sunnis’ situation in Lebanon “because the real picture is quite different from that depicted in local, Middle East and Western media.”
Assad is too busy carving Lebanon up to heed Sarkozy
The big danger now, says Beiruti, is that “Iran is close to laying hands on another Arab capital after overpowering Baghdad.” Iran is at the moment directly funding more Sunni organizations than any other source operating in Lebanon. Syria and Iran together, through their agents, are engaged in a joint venture to fragment these movements into small, easily dominated splinter-groups.”
The writer holds up the small Sunni groups operating in northern and southern Lebanon as having been sucked into the Syrian Baath party. Syrian military intelligence now dominates the Lebanese communist party, most of whose members are Sunni Muslims.
The letter offers a list of Lebanese Sunni leaders in the direct pay of Damascus or Tehran:
Fahi Yeyagun, former leader of the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood now on Damascus’ payroll.
Abdallah Nasser Jabari, born in Syria, educated in Saudi medressas, who controls a chain of Sunni religious institutions and, after taking Iranian money, adopted Tehran’s revolutionary Shiite ideas.
Maher Hamoud, head of the Muslim ulema associations in Lebanon, is in the pay of both Damascus and Tehran.
The Lebanese writer is highly critical of al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman Zawahri, for his support of the Fatah al-Islam’s 2006 uprising in northern Lebanon against the Lebanese army. This group was lavishly funded and armed by Syrian intelligence, says al Beiruti, but has no influence among Lebanese Sunni groups. Al Qaeda squandered its support on a force which served the enemy.
He reveals that Syrian military intelligence recently established a new Sunni militia in northern Lebanon to serve its goal of capturing sections of the main Tripoli-Beirut highway to cut the capital off from the North. The next step is to establish an autonomous Sunni entity in northern Lebanon subject to Damascus.
Sarkozy managed to sell Washington the notion that he can breakup the strategic pact between Damascus and Tehran and put a stop to Syria’s meddling in Lebanese affairs. But Bashar Assad is too busy carving Lebanon up to pay attention to the French president.
The writer stresses in conclusion that Damascus, Tehran and Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah understand that the only power capable of loosening their grip on Lebanon and uniting the Sunni community against them is al Qaeda.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources note that Osama bin Laden makes a practice of replying to such letters, sometimes after weeks or months.