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Middle east

Syrian security chief accused of terror plot in Lebanon

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-12

Lebanon accused Syria’s new security chief Saturday of planning to stage terror attacks across the country along with former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha, who was arrested Thursday. General Ali Mamlouk was made head of Syrian security on July 24.

AFP - Lebanon's military prosecutor general on Saturday accused Syrian security chief General Ali Mamluk and former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha of planning attacks in Lebanon, a judicial source said.

A Syrian army colonel named only as Adnan was also accused as being an accessory to the conspiracy.

All three are "suspected of forming a group to provoke sectarian killings and terrorist acts using explosives, which were transported and stored by Michel Samaha," the source told AFP.

Their targets would have been religious and political figures, and the men are accused of attempting to stir sectarian strife and undermine the Lebanese state, the source said.

On Thursday, Lebanese security forces arrested Samaha, a former information minister who is considered close to Syria's embattled regime, in a case linked to a seizure of explosives, a senior official said.

On Saturday a judge from the military court ordered that Samaha be kept in prison as part of the investigation, the judicial source said.

The senior official said the explosives were to have been used mostly in northern Lebanon, a region of tensions linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

"The accusations against Samaha are related to explosives, which were going to be placed in several parts of the country, especially the north," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official declined to elaborate on the alleged link between the former minister and the explosives, but he said the material was not seized from Samaha's home where the arrest was carried out.

According to media reports, Samaha was confronted with incriminating video tapes and has admitted he was guilty.

The tapes were made by someone employed by Samaha who later informed police of his activity. The unidentified man reportedly agreed to cooperate with the authorities and continue working for Samaha undercover.

Mamluk was appointed on July 24 as Syria's new head of National Security in a shake-up of the security services after a Damascus bombing that killed four top generals, including a brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A former head of state security who played an important role in repressing dissent in Syria, Mamluk has been targeted by US and EU sanctions since mid-2011 and is accused of being responsible for human rights abuses.

A US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks dated 2007 speaks of Mamluk's "objectionable activities regarding Lebanon, and his suppressing Syrian civil society and the internal opposition."

Syria occupied Lebanon militarily and politically for nearly three decades until 2005, when its troops were forced to pull out of the country under international pressure.

Seven years after Syria withdrew from Lebanon, the country's political forces remain sharply divided over their neighbour.

Date created : 2012-08-11

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