debkafile reports: More fuel was thrown on the bubbling brew surrounding Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit toLebanon – and the coming spectacle of his joint appearance in the south Thursday, Oct. 14 with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah – by an armed Al Qaeda-linked group.
"The whole of Lebanon will tremble if Ahmadinejad sets foot in Lebanon," said the Abdullah Azzam group, named for Osama bin Laden's Palestinian mentor who was al Qaeda's original founder. "We will do the impossible to thwart this conspiracy."
The embassy in Beirut has warned Americans in Lebanon "to be vigilant, monitor news reports, avoid large gatherings of people, and carefully consider their safety and security before choosing to visit popular gathering spots or places where large numbers of people are commonly found."
US citizens were reminded that "even peaceful gatherings can turn violent and spread over neighborhoods with little or no warning."
According to debkafile's intelligence sources, this warning appeared to cover Beirut international airport, over which Hizballah's militiamen have taken control, public transport and popular eating places.
As Lebanese citizens snapped up every weapon on sale, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri suddenly took off Monday for Cairo – ostensibly to consult with Arab League Secretary Amr Mussa on the crisis unfolding over the Iranian president's visits. More discreetly, debkafile's Middle East sources disclose, he met with Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman.
In his absence, Nasrallah's deputy Sheik Naim Qassem declared the Ahmadinejad visit was a success even before his arrival. That view is not shared by other Lebanese. A Sunni Islamist group in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli posted large banners and pictures of the Iranian president with large crosses and the slogan: "You are not welcome in Lebanon." Qassem did not forget to once again pin the blame for the 2005 Rafiq Hariri murder on Israel.
debkafile's counter-terror sources report that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades threat to the Iranian president is taken seriously because of its track record. Its Ziad al-Jarrah Battalions took credit for the Katyusha rocket attack on the Israeli town of Nahariya in September. This branch of "Al Qaeda in the Levant" is currently resurgent in Palestinian refugee camps in southern and northern Lebanon, Syria and in Iraq, with active offshoots in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.