January 13, 2006

Lebanon arrests 13 al Qaeda suspects

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese security forces have arrested
13 suspected members of al Qaeda on charges of weapons
possession, security and judiciary sources said on Friday.

They said investigations were underway to determine whether
the suspects -- seven Syrians, three Lebanese, one Saudi, one
Jordanian with Lebanese nationality and one Palestinian -- had
carried out or were planning to launch attacks.

The arrests are believed to have taken place some two weeks
ago, the sources said.

Al Qaeda has rarely launched attacks in Lebanon, although
it has used allied factions to recruit scores of volunteers
among Lebanese and Palestinian refugees who went to Iraq to

One of the al Qaeda hijackers in the September 11 attacks
in the United States was a Lebanese national.

A foiled attempt to bomb the Italian embassy in Beirut in
2004 was blamed on a small militant group with links to al

Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for firing
three Katyusha rockets from south Lebanon into northern Israel
on December 27. There has been no independent confirmation that
the Sunni Muslim militant group was behind that attack.

Israeli warplanes bombed a Palestinian guerrilla base just
south of Beirut in retaliation for the strike.

South Lebanon is largely controlled by Shi'ite Hizbollah
guerrillas who have sporadically clashed with Israeli forces
since the Jewish state ended 22 years of occupation in 2000.