Hundreds mourn slain Islamist in Lebanon

AIN AL-HILWEH, Lebanon — Hundreds of mourners gathered in a southern Lebanese refugee camp on Thursday for the funeral of Abdel Rahman Awad, the head of a Qaeda-inspired group killed by the army at the weekend.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 19 Aug 2010, 6:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:49 AM

Awad, a Palestinian, was the presumed chief of the shadowy Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist group which fought a deadly battle in 2007 against the Lebanese army at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the country’s north.

The conflict raged for more than three months and cost 400 lives, with 168 soldiers among the dead. Awad was said to have fled to the notorious southern camp of Ain al-Hilweh.

The open-casket funeral of Awad, dubbed the “prince” of Fatah al-Islam and formerly one of Lebanon’s most wanted Islamists, was held at Ain al-Hilweh and only attended by family members.

“He believed in a cause that was different from ours and he was martyred for that cause,” Awad’s brother Hussein, a member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, told AFP.

“But he did not commit a crime.”

Many of the mourners chanted “Paradise, open your doors, the martyr is coming to visit” and “There is no Allah but Allah” as the funeral procession made its way to the camp cemetery.

Lebanese troops on Saturday killed Awad and his aide, “Abu Bakr” Mubarak, in a shootout in the eastern town of Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley.

Awad, who had been hiding in Ain al-Hilweh for more than a year, opened fire at troops along with his comrade and the soldiers responded, killing the pair, the army said.

Abu Bakr was rumoured to have provided military training to members of Fatah al-Islam. His funeral was expected later Thursday.

The pair had been travelling on false identities to Iraq via Syria, according to a Fatah al-Islam statement picked up by SITE Intelligence, a US service that monitors jihadist Internet forums.

Lebanese judicial authorities have accused Awad of being behind bus bombings two years ago in the port city of Tripoli, near Nahr al-Bared, that killed 21 people, including 13 soldiers.

Fatah al-Islam has been linked to deadly attacks that targeted top army and police officers in December 2007 and January 2008 respectively, as well as three UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon in June 2007.

Lebanese authorities have also charged that Awad had been monitoring the movements of Lebanese army troops as well as of UN peacekeepers stationed in south Lebanon.

In August 2007, the US State Department designated Fatah al-Islam, which denies formal links with al-Qaeda, as a “terrorist” group.

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