Naharnet

Rifi: There is a Criminal Political Camp and We'll Fiercely Defend Our Security

Resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has stressed that he will “fiercely defend” the security of Tripoli and Lebanon, a day after he lauded Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq's request for the government to disband the Tripoli-based Arab Democratic Party and the Islamic Unification Movement faction led by Sheikh Hashem Minqara.

In remarks to al-Joumhouria newspaper published Monday, Rifi confirmed that he would attend any cabinet session dedicated to discussing Mashnouq's request in order to “defend Tripoli's rights and security” and “because the issue has to do with the security of every Lebanese.”

And noting that the case “is similar to the Michel Samaha case,” the resigned minister said “there is a vile, criminal political camp that has committed horrible acts.”

“The crime of blowing up the two mosques was one of the ugliest crimes against Tripolitans,” he added.

“We will fiercely defend our security and the security of every Lebanese anywhere and we will fiercely defend justice in Lebanon,” Rifi vowed.

Lebanon's judiciary has recently indicted two Syrian intelligence officers it accused of masterminding the deadly blasts.

The double bombing killed 45 people and wounded more than 500, and a series of indictments have already been handed down against Lebanese and Syrians accused of involvement.

The indictment names Captain Mohamed Ali Ali, an official in the Palestine branch of Syria's intelligence services, and Nasser Jouban, an official in Syria's political security branch.

The two men, neither of whom is in custody, are accused of helping to prepare the attack, placing explosives in cars and assigning a Lebanese cell to carry out the bombing. The Lebanese who are in custody hail from the Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, the bastion of the pro-Damascus Arab Democratic Party.

The attacks targeted two Sunni mosques in Tripoli, which has frequently experienced tensions between Sunnis and Alawites who belong to the same religious minority as Syrian President Bashar Assad and tend to support his government.

The indictment alleges the attacks also involved other high-ranking Syrian officials, who are accused of directing Ali and Jouban to organize them.

The blasts in the northern city were the deadliest attack in Lebanon since the country's 1975-1990 civil war and raised fears that the conflict in neighboring Syria could be inexorably seeping across the border.

Lebanon's political landscape is largely divided between parties that back Assad and those who support the uprising against him that began in March 2011.


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