Ghosn: Car in Bir al-Abed Blast Stolen from Khalde, Suspects Held over Dahieh, Arsal, Hermel Attacks

Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn on Friday disclosed details related to several security incidents that have recently taken place in the country, noting that the information is based on investigations conducted by the army's Intelligence Directorate, not on “analysis or speculation.”

“Some might wonder why we have decided to disclose the information we have obtained, especially that sensitive intel is usually kept under wraps by security agencies, but I stress that this decision is a result of my conviction of the need to say things as they are, in order to put an end to some of the speculations and hypotheses that aim to deviate attention from the facts and create confusion among the ranks of the Lebanese public opinion,” Ghosn told reporters at a press conference.

The minister revealed that “the Intelligence Directorate arrested Hasan Hussein Rayed on July 27, 2013 and he confessed to executing some terrorist operations and preparing booby-trapped cars in collaboration with Omar Ahmed al-Atrash and other culprits.”

“On May 28, 2013, Rayed participated together with Omar Ahmed al-Atrash, Sami Ahmed al-Atrash, Obeida Mustafa al-Hujairi, Ahmed Abdul Karim Hmeid, Sameh al-Breidi and four Syrians in the killing of several troops on a Lebanese army checkpoint in the Wadi Hmayd area” in Arsal's outskirts, Ghosn said.

He added that Rayed was also involved in the Wadi Rafeq ambush that left four young men dead on June 16 and that Omar and Sami al-Atrash and four Syrians took part in the attack.

In addition, the man confessed to taking part in the preparation and detonation of two roadside bombs on the Hermel road on July 7, which left an officer and several soldiers wounded, according to Ghosn.

Rayed also told his interrogators that the Omar and Sami al-Atrash, Zuheir Hussein Ammoun, Sameh al-Breidi and Ahmed Abdul Karim Hmeid were involved in preparing several booby-trapped cars with the aim of staging attacks in Beirut's southern suburbs and other Lebanese areas, and that Omar al-Atrash is “the mastermind of this group.”

Turning to the July 9 Bir al-Abed bombing, Ghosn said that, according to investigations, the Kia car used in the attack was stolen at gun point from the Khalde area on the eve of the blast, revealing that Syrian national Hussam Diab Ghanem Abu Halaq was arrested by the Intelligence Directorate and that he had ties to other individuals suspected of being involved in the bombing.

The minister also revealed that the Intelligence Directorate has “strong leads” in the case of the May 26 rocket attack on the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyyah and that it was pursuing one of the suspects.

“The directorate has accurate information about the handlers of these individuals, about the mastermind and the involved groups and about their affiliations and nationalities,” Ghosn added, referring to the Shiyyah attack.

“I'm sounding the alarm to say that Lebanon has started to fall into the grip of terrorism and that everyone must realize the seriousness of this period,” Ghosn said, urging all Lebanese to “support the military institution and not to harbor these fugitives.”

Ghosn's revelations come one day after 24 people were killed and 325 others wounded in a powerful car bombing that went off between the Beirut southern suburbs of Bir al-Abed and Ruwais.

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