Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 1   No. 12

December 1999 

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Lebanese Security Forces Strike at Fatah Leadership

Lebanese security forces have been authorized by Syria to crack down on the military wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement in Lebanon. The opening shots of this campaign occurred in October, when the leader of Fatah in Lebanon, Brigadier Sultan Abul-Aynain, was sentenced to death in absentia by a Lebanese military court for "forming an armed group that seeks to commit crimes . . . and to undermine the government's authority."

Khaled Aref
Khaled Aref
Although Abu-Aynain has not yet been arrested, several senior Fatah military commanders have been taken into custody. On November 24, Lebanese troops arrested Fatah's commander in Sidon, Brigadier Taha Mohammed Abdel-Qader (known as Khaled Aref), 37, and the movement's senior official in eastern Lebanon, Colonel Khaled Shayeb, 50, at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the Rashidieh camp and took them to the army headquarters in Tyre for interrogation. Shayeb had been sentenced to death by a Lebanese court for his role in the murder of two Lebanese civilians and has been indicted for the murder of a member of a rival Palestinian organization. Aref was sentenced in 1995 to 15 years in prison for his alleged involvement in a number of bombings that killed several people in the Ain al-Hilweh camp. He is also believed to have been responsible for organizing a violent demonstration last month in Ain al-Hilweh that injured a Lebanese army officer.

Sources in Lebanon report that the Lebanese army recently arrested another senior Fatah commander, Muhammad Awad (also known as Hassan al-Sheble), as he left the Rashidieh camp in Tyre earlier this month. There are reportedly warrants pending for the arrests of at least 4-5 other Fatah military commanders

Under the 1969 Cairo Accords, the PLO was granted responsibility for maintaining security inside Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Since the end of the civil war, Lebanese security forces have been stationed outside the camps, but have not been permitted by Syria to enter these areas. However, the ability of Fatah military officers to travel around the country unhindered has clearly been circumscribed over the last month.

1999 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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