Akkar, Lebanon- A group calling itself Jund El Sham, threatened to slaughter German Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is heading a U.N. team investigating Rafik Hariri's assassination. The group also threatened to slaughter members of the reigning Lebanese authorities.
"We will slaughter without hesitation the reigning Lebanese authority and those who make up the majority in Parliament for collaborating with the West, to impose a new tutelage over Lebanon," Al Mustaqbal quoted Jund El Sham leaflets distributed in the northern Lebanese township of Rahbeh in Akkar as saying.
"We shall overthrow this authority by all means," Jund El Sham vowed in the leaflets that included Mehlis as a slaying target "because he is one of the senior-most officers of the Mossad," Israel's secret service, according to Al Mustaqbal newspaper that is owned by the Hariri family.
Mehlis is currently in Vienna, writing his final report on the outcome of the probe into Hariri's murder.
Our research of the Jund al-Sham group yielded the following results:
Jund al-Sham is a terrorist group which claimed to be behind the suicidal bombing near a British school in Qatar. They also claimed responsibility for the three Bombings in Lebanon following the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.
The following July 14, 2004 Al Safir ( Lebanese newspaper) article seems to be the most complete report on Jund al-Sham. We obtained the translation from Lebanon wire website.
"Since Jund al-Sham announced its first communiques in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, east of the southern port city of Sidon, and started deploying armed men in the camp's alleys, several reports, including many that are closer to rumors, were published about the Sunni fundamentalist group. Jund al-Sham is actually a group of young Muslim men who adhere to a methodology considered by many as extremist because it is close to Salafism (adherence to the ways of al-Salaf, or ancestors) and is brandished by people like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi.
Literally meaning The Soldiers of Syria, several sources attribute the term Jund al-Sham to Prophet Mohammed's terming of Palestine as Bilad al-Sham, or Geographic Syria, a term that later came to include present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
Most of its members are dissidents of Usbat al-Ansar (Band of Supporters), which is close to the Sunni fundamentalist Islamic Group, itself a splinter of the Muslim Brothers. The predominantly Palestinian group was outlawed by the Lebanese judiciary in 1995 for assassinating a rival cleric that year. Its leader, Ahmed Abdel-Karim Saadi, alias Abu Mohjen, is believed to be hiding in Ein el-Hilweh from an in-absentia death sentence. Usbat al-Nour (Band of Light) is another splinter of his group.
Jund al-Sham is led by Abu Youssef Sharqieh, a former official with Fatah-the Revolutionary Council, which was headed by Sabri Banna. Banna, alias Abu Nidal was found dead in Baghdad before the US-led invasion and was claimed to have committed suicide by the Iraqi authorities. He is blamed by almost all Palestinian groups of having had strong enough ties with Israel's foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad.
Some of Jund al-Sham's leaders fought the Lebanese Army during a rebellion that broke out on New Year's Eve in 1999 in the predominantly Sunni Dinnieh area in northern Lebanon.
The group broke away from Usbat al-Ansar in protest of the mother group's decision to stop bullying people who do not obey Islamic teachings in their daily lives and in protest of Usbat al-Ansar's handing over of one of its leading members to the Lebanese authorities to be tried on charges of killing Lebanese soldiers.
Their alleged link to Zarqawi, a leader of bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network who is believed to reside and operate in Iraq, stems from reports that he has arranged training for terrorists at al-Qaeda camps. While he was in Pakistan, Zarqawi made contact with al-Qaeda to train Jordanians. His operatives (called "Jund al-Sham") began to arrive in Afghanistan in large numbers in l999. Some of these operatives trained at al-Qaeda's al-Faruq Camp, where they received full support from al-Qaeda. Zarqawi eventually established his own cell and camp in Herat, Afghanistan.
Jund al-Islam does not consider as infidels only non-Muslims but also most Muslim sects, especially Shiite ones. They even consider as non-Muslims members of Hizbullah, the Shiite militant group that fought a spectacular liberation war against Israel's occupation of parts of southern Lebanon.
"Even Palestinian martyrs, including Hamas' martyrs like Ahmad Yassin and Abdel-Aziz al-Rantisi, are not martyrs of Islam," the group's literature says. "They are martyrs of the homeland and the land, but not of Islam. Any victory in Palestine will be exploited by secularists, like the leaders of the Palestinian Authority; it will not be a victory for Muslims."
They reportedly consider Christians as "remnants of the Crusades" and do not believe in fighting Israel to liberate Palestine but within the framework of what they consider as a historical conflict between Muslims and Jews, recalling the wars that Prophet Mohammed fought with Jewish tribes.
Their opponents say their number does not exceed 60 and claim they are mostly fugitives who are wanted by the Lebanese authorities. They say they are stationed in internal alleys of Ein el-Hilweh where it is hard for the Popular Committees, which run the affairs of all camps, to track them down.
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Sources: Naharnet,As Safir, Lebanonwire