January 13, 2006

Lebanon says al Qaeda suspects planned attacks

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon charged 13 suspected al Qaeda
members on Friday with planning to launch terrorist attacks,
military prosecutor Ahmed Awidat said.

The charges also include possession of weapons and forging
documents, Awidat said. He did not give further details, but
said the suspects would appear before a military magistrate for
questioning at a later date.

Security sources said earlier on Friday that Lebanese
security forces had arrested the suspects -- seven Syrians,
three Lebanese, one Saudi, one Jordanian with Lebanese
nationality and one Palestinian -- about two weeks ago.

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.