June 08/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 12,28-34. One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Free Opinion
In south Lebanon, resistance from cradle to grave-By Scott Peterson.Christian Science Monitor June 8/07
Olmert's words won't matter without Washington's genuine support-Daily Star- June 8/07
Winning over the Palestinian card-By Michael Young-June 8/07

What Arizona can say about conducting the Iraq war.By David Ignatius-June 8/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 08/06/07
Three vehicles with explosives found in Lebanon-China Daily
Militants in north Lebanon camp vow to continue fighting
-RIA Novosti
Police confiscate weapons, make arrests in eastern Lebanon
-Monsters and
Soldier Killed in Clashes With Militants in Lebanon
-FOX News

France, Saudi seek end to Lebanon's cabinet crisis-Reuters
Army Tanks, Helicopters Pound Militants at Nahr al-Bared-Naharnet
Security Forces Abort Attempt to Blow up 3 Booby-trapped Cars
Absi's Brother: My Mother Begged God on Deathbed for Son's Victory at Nahr al-Bared
U.S. Pledges $3.5 Million in Aid to Nahr al-Bared Refugees
Jailed Fatah al-Islam Militants Face Terrorism Charges
Two-Point Plan to End Fatah al-Islam's Network
Fatah al-Islam Leader Faces Death Penalty in Jordan
Army piles pressure on militants in north Lebanon-ABC Online
Top PLO official in Lebanon calls for setting up Palestinian force ...International Herald Tribune

Iran opens a window of opportunity on Lebanon-Middle East Online

Report: Syria, Iran, Hizbullah preparing for war in North-Jerusalem Post
US Cool to Israeli Dialogue With Syria-Voice of America
PLO in Lebanon calls for Palestinian force there-Jerusalem Post
Fears of war as Israel and Syria show army might-Scotsman

Authorities seize Hizbullah weapons-Daily Star
US to lift ban on private cargo fights to Lebanon-Daily Star
Foreign powers weigh in on impasse in Beirut-Daily Star
Lebanese Army claims 'less resistance' at Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
British Council to open new premises on June 8/--Daily Star
US to donate $3.5 million to Nahr al-Bared refugees-Daily Star
Jordanian prosecutor calls for death sentence against Abssi
-Daily Star
Joint Palestinian force deploys in Ain al-Hilweh-Daily Star
Mokheiber: Parliamentary rules hamper efficiency-Daily Star
Lebanese software pros draw interest of European recruiters-Daily Star
Former AUB dean dies of illness at 87-Daily Star
Rescued medic recounts ordeal in Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
Chouf reserve is still recovering from war-Daily Star

In south Lebanon, resistance from cradle to grave
One family's allegiance to Hizbullah reveals much about the group's support and how it draws fighters.
By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
On the leeward side of Ait al-Shaab, a village in south Lebanon, the war between Hizbullah and Israel caused many sacrifices. Months later, both tears and triumph are plentiful. Even after the Shiite "Party of God" sparked a war that killed three of their loved ones and battered most every house in the village, one family's steadfast allegiance to Hizbullah reveals much about the group's bedrock support and how it draws more fighters. "You can't describe [the level of our commitment]," says the surviving mother of 13, dressed head to toe in layers of black. "After God, it is resistance."
Under their modest roof, nine children are boys, five of them fighting age. A poster of Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is taped inside the front door of the cinder-block house, a minute's walk to tobacco fields and citrus groves. One son, a Hizbullah fighter, was pierced by shrapnel through the right hand. The grandparents, too weak to flee the Israeli shelling, were killed in a direct hit to their house. The father, who refused to leave his parents alone, was struck with shrapnel and lived. But he died later, the family says, when Israeli jets hit the ambulance as it raced with him to the hospital. Israeli forces targeted ambulances and aid convoys numerous times in the war. "Naturally, we love the resistance," says one son. "We predicted there would be a war, and always our salvation was Hizbullah. We count on them to save us; since childhood it is in our minds." But he didn't join the Hizbullah fighters like his other brothers. And he had a hard time convincing his father before his death that he should avoid the front and help with food and evacuating the women. The father wanted all five sons to join the war.
One family's allegiance to Hizbullah reveals much about the group's support and how it draws fighters. The younger brother, 20, relished his first battle "One hundred percent it felt very, very good." He was just 14 or 15 when he "first began to think about the resistance, to understand it," he says. At 17, "the idea was complete in my mind. I felt I must be there and join [Hizbullah]."
In the war, he didn't become a "martyr," like his friend, whose image can be found on what locals call the "hero's wall."
Portraits of the village's nine most recent martyrs mark the wall in the village's central square. "When I see those portraits, I wish I could be there," says the younger brother. "As long as there is an enemy, the idea of martyrdom is there, like Imam Hussein," says the older one.
That enemy has been Israel and the proxy South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia that it created during its 18-year occupation of south Lebanon that ended in 2000. One brother from this family and a cousin were forced to join the SLA. The brother was taken away as a recruit in 1993 by the SLA directly from high school where he was taking an exam to enter college. In less than a month he escaped: angry and ready to join Hizbullah. "They became Hizbullah in their blood," says one sister. "Every human loves freedom, and the freedom has come through Hizbullah."Today, the families of martyrs receive their dead fighter's salary and $10,000 to pay rent while houses are rebuilt (often with money from Iran). That does not make the cycle of war and rebirth less of an effort or less painful."What we lived through and felt because of the war, felt like we were living in Karbala," says another daughter, referring to the city where Imam Hussein was killed by the armies of a Sunni caliph.
The family matriarch laughs when asked if her aim has been to raise martyrs. But her daughter replies, "Of course I would feel proud to marry and have children, if they die for their village, their family, their beliefs; I would feel proud."

Army Tanks, Helicopters Pound Militants at Nahr al-Bared
Lebanese army tanks and helicopters on Thursday pounded Fatah al-Islam militants holed up inside the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared after a night of fierce gunbattles. Local media said heavy fighting took place between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday as the Lebanese army pounded Fatah al-Islam hiding places inside the camp in retaliation for mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on military positions. Security sources said three soldiers were wounded by a militant RPG in the overnight fighting. Military helicopters opened fire with heavy weapons and tanks fired shells on the impoverished camp after a brief two-hour lull in the fighting that has raged between the militants and the army since May 20 in the deadliest peacetime clashes in Lebanon in decades. More than 100 people have been reported killed since then.On Wednesday, a military prosecutor indicted 11 men from Fatah al-Islam for "acts of terrorism" -- a charge that risks the death penalty -- bringing to 31 the total charged since the gunbattles first erupted, most of them Lebanese.
The gunmen have been able to resist the army's superior fire power during the 19-day standoff, although the mainstream Palestinian Fatah faction reported that the resolve of the militants was weakening and some were surrendering. Lebanese security has also been shaken by a series of bomb blasts in and around Beirut and on Thursday an unknown assailant tossed a concussion grenade near a school in Beirut's Furn al-Shubbak neighborhood, causing material damage but no casualties.
Fatah commander in Lebanon, Sultan Abul Ainayn said Fatah al-Islam militants were "emitting the last breath, as its members are deserting its ranks."
He said three gunmen had surrendered and handed over their weapons and that 18 others said they had stopped fighting and were seeking guarantees to turn themselves in, leaving only about 75 militiamen still fighting. There was no confirmation from Fatah al-Islam, which has vowed to fight "until the last drop of blood."
"We have information that there were some elements which gave themselves up, but the army has not received any of them," an army spokesman said. "We have information that some elements have also dropped their arms and left the fight, as many of them are in poor spirits."
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora has warned Fatah al-Islam to surrender or be wiped out. Fears the unrest could spread through other refugee camps were fuelled when fighting broke out on Sunday at the Ain al-Hilweh shantytown between the army and members of another shadowy group known as Jund al-Sham, or Soldiers of Damascus. But the situation remains calm around Ain al-Hilweh, on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon, after the battles that left two Islamists and two soldiers dead. On Wednesday, a joint force of armed militiamen from various factions of the PLO, pro-Syrian groups and Islamist movements deployed in the northern sector of the camp where the clashes took place. "It is a joint force entrusted to maintain order and prevent a resumption of the clashes which have taken place," Mounir Maqdah, head of the powerful militia of the PLO's main faction, the Fatah movement, told AFP.
The escalation of violence has prompted Washington to pledge more supplies to the Lebanese army after Congress last month approved a seven-fold increase in military assistance for 2007 to 280 million dollars. The United States has also granted 3.5 million dollars to help Palestinian refugees caught up in the fighting, Saniora's office said.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 07 Jun 07, 08:04

Security Forces Abort Attempt to Blow up 3 Booby-trapped Cars
Lebanese troops on Thursday discovered three vehicles rigged with explosives during a raid on a hideout in east Lebanon's Bekaa valley, security officials said.
The two cars and a van were discovered near the town of Bar Elias, a day after security forces captured three foreign militants in the area, the officials said.
It was not immediately known if the three belonged to Fatah al-Islam, which has been fighting the Lebanese army since May 20 at the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near the northern city of Tripoli. The three, two Syrians and an Iraqi, were arrested near Bar Elias about 10 kilometers from the main border crossing to Syria, police said Wednesday. Security forces found weapons, explosives, detailed maps of villages and cities and night-vision goggles in their hideout.
The National News Agency said the three testified to rigging the un-registered vehicles with explosives. Also Wednesday, the army arrested a man, disguised a veiled woman wearing a black robe, as he walked through the town of Mina near Tripoli, a local security official said.
The 20-year-old man, a Syrian, identified as Mohammed Abdul Samed Abdul Rahman Abu Khaferin, was taken to a military barracks for questioning to determine whether he belonged to Fatah al-Islam and was trying to flee the city. Four explosions in Beirut and nearby areas have killed one person and wounded 40 others in the past few weeks. Early Thursday, a concussion hand grenade blew up in Beirut's Furn al Shubbak district near a school, damaging several vehicles and further rattling the security situation. A battery and a timing device were found in a plastic bag at Aintoura school, north of Beirut, causing panic among the students and staff, NNA said. The agency said that firecrackers at Notre Dame University campus in Barsa, Koura province also caused panic.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 Jun 07, 13:10

Two-Point Plan to End Fatah al-Islam's Network

Six major Palestinian factions operating in Lebanon agreed to form a joint committee to coordinate affairs of the Palestinian refugees with the Beirut government and settle the Fatah al-Islam issue. The committee is headed by Palestine Liberation Organization diplomatic representative in Beirut Abbas Zaki, Palestinian sources told Naharnet. They said the committee comprises representatives of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' mainline Fatah, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).Zaki is holding talks with his PLO superiors in Jordan to obtain President Abbas' approval of the committee, called the Higher Political Committee to Oversee Affairs of Palestinians in Lebanon, the sources said  One source said Zaki also wants Abbas' approval of a blueprint for an "understanding" with Lebanon on settling the issue of the so-called Fatah al-Islam terrorist network which has been fighting the Lebanese army at the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared for 18 days. The two-point understanding is based on the Lebanese government's distinction between "two categories of Fatah al-Islam terrorists. Those who killed the Lebanese Army, and those who fought the Lebanese Army," the source said.
The first category includes "some 50-60 terrorists wanted for killing Lebanese troops, security officers and Lebanese citizens," according to the source.
He said the second category covers "some 150 fighters who took part in the fight against the army at Nahr al-Bared as of May 21," when the army launched its counter offensive, one day after Fatah al-Islam terrorists killed a number of its troops in a series of surprise raids. Lebanese Authorities want to refer all Fatah al-Islam terrorists who fall under the first category to a military tribunal on charges punishable by death. While others would be tried also by a military tribunal and then extradited to their respective nations, except for Lebanese citizens and Palestinian refugees residing originally in Lebanon who will serve their sentences in Lebanon, the source explained.
This leaves no other option for Fatah al-Islam terrorists but surrender or face death "in a final show down with the Lebanese Army." At least 108 people have been killed since the confrontation first broke out in the northern city of Tripoli on May 20. Beirut, 06 Jun 07, 19:37

Fatah al-Islam Leader Faces Death Penalty in Jordan
A Jordanian prosecutor called Wednesday for the chief of an Islamist group battling the Lebanese army to be sentenced to death in a case involving the infiltration of armed fighters into Iraq. Palestinian-born Shaker Abssi, who heads the so-called Fatah al-Islam, is among five fugitives being tried by Jordan's military tribunal.
Another 12 defendants have been facing court since the trial started in March and all have pleaded not guilty. Their lawyer urged the court on Wednesday to acquit them, claiming they gave testimony under duress. The court adjourned to deliberate its verdict but no date was set for the next session.
The defendants, most of whom are Jordanians, were indicted in February on seven counts, including possession and sale of unlicensed weapons for which they can face the death penalty, and for infiltrating Syria. Abssi is listed in the charge sheet as one of the defendants but there are no details about his role in the case, in which alleged Jordanian mastermind Mohannad Qassem Mohammad Shalabi recruited fighters to join Iraq rebels. Several suspects entered Syria illegally to receive military training while others were sent to Lebanon for that same purpose, the charge sheet said.
One of the suspects, identified as Hamza Mohammad Saeed Saqr is said to have told would-be recruits they would be joining militants of the Al-Qaida branch in Iraq.
Abssi is wanted in Jordan where a military court sentenced him to death in absentia in 2004 for his alleged involvement in the murder of American USAID diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman in 2002. He served a three-year jail sentence in Syria and was set free in 2006. He is allegedly linked to the former leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, the Jordanian-born extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike in 2006.
Shaker Abssi's brother, Abdelrazzaq, told Agence France Presse the family is originally from the Ain Sultan camp, in the West Bank town of Jericho, and fled to Jordan during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 06 Jun 07, 16:53

Absi's Brother: My Mother Begged God on Deathbed for Son's Victory at Nahr al-Bared
On her deathbed, the mother of Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Youssef al-Absi beseeched God to grant her son "victory" in his battle against the Lebanese army, his brother said Wednesday. Fatima al-Zaatrah died of old age 10 days ago in her home in Amman's Wehdat Palestinian refugee camp. She was 87.
But in her last days, al-Zaatrah was glued to her television set, watching the fighting evolve between the Lebanese army and her son, al-Absi, holed up with his Fatah al-Islam militants in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near the northern port city of Tripoli. "Her last words were mostly about Shaker," said al-Absi's brother, Abdul-Razzaq, an Amman orthopedic surgeon. "She said that she missed him a lot and had wished to see him before she dies."
"She besought God to protect Shaker and grant him long life and victory in his cause," Abdul-Razzaq told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The fighting which began May 20 has amounted to the worst internal violence in Lebanon since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. Lebanese authorities have demanded Fatah al-Islam surrender, but the militants have vowed to fight to death. Al-Absi, a Palestinian, is high on Jordan's most-wanted terror list. A military court sentenced him to death in absentia in July 2004, along with al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for their roles in the 2002 slaying of a U.S. aid official.
Al-Zarqawi died in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq a year ago. Jordanian prosecutors say al-Absi, who is also known as Abu Youssef, sent money raised by al-Zarqawi through intermediaries to the Jordanian cell that killed U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman. Al-Absi also arranged to train militants in Syria on weapons and explosives, according to Jordanian military court documents. Al-Absi was also implicated in other planned terror plots in Jordan. Six months ago, Jordanian police engaged in a gun battle with two militants in the northern city of Irbid, killing one and arresting another. The arrested militant later confessed that al-Absi had sent the pair to carry out terror attacks in Jordan.
Al-Absi reportedly came to Lebanon last year from Syria, where he spent a number of years, some of them in prison. In the Nahr al-Bared camp -- safe from Lebanese authorities who cannot enter Palestinian refugee camps under a 40-year-old agreement -- he slowly built up his organization.(AP) (AP photo shows Lebanese soldiers flashing the V-sign at Nahr al-Bared) Beirut, 07 Jun 07, 09:32

U.S. Pledges $3.5 Million in Aid to Nahr al-Bared Refugees
The United States has pledged $3.5 million in aid for Palestinian refugees caught up in the fighting between Lebanese troops and Fatah al-Islam militants in the northern shantytown of Nahr al-Bared. U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on Wednesday said the donation was in reference to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Flash Appeal for $12.66 million to provide "urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon displaced by the actions of the terrorist group, Fatah al-Islam," in Nahr al-Bared. "This is nearly 28 percent of UNRWA's Flash Appeal for Palestinian refugees in North Lebanon," he said.
"The United States backs fully the efforts by the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Lebanese government in eliminating the threat posed by Fatah al-Islam," Feltman told reporters. "At the same time, the United States also shares the deep concern expressed by Prime Minister Saniora about the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian refugee population of Nahr al-Bared displaced by the fighting," he added. Beirut, 07 Jun 07, 10:48

U.S. Partially Lifts Ban on Air Traffic to Lebanon
In a move aimed at "promoting peace and security in Lebanon," U.S. President George Bush announced he was partially lifting a ban on air traffic to Lebanon imposed since the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut. A memorandum released by the White House on Wednesday said Bush permitted "U.S. air carriers under contract to the United States Government to engage in foreign air transportation to and from Lebanon of passengers, including U.S. and non-U.S. citizens, and their accompanying baggage; of goods for humanitarian purposes; and of any other cargo or material." A U.S. embassy spokesperson told The Daily Star the U.S. "intends to maintain its very robust support to the Lebanese armed forces as a pledge to the Lebanese to support their sovereignty and independence."But the spokesperson would not comment on whether the prohibition was relaxed to facilitate further deliveries of military assistance. U.S. military cargo planes have recently delivered infantry supplies as well as rifles and ammunition as part of a $280 million military aid to Lebanon. Beirut, 07 Jun 07, 07:27

Jailed Fatah al-Islam Militants Face Terrorism Charges
A Lebanese military prosecutor on Wednesday laid terrorism charges against 11 militants from the Fatah al-Islam group locked in a deadly standoff with the army at a Palestinian refugee camp. The proceedings brought to 31 the number of Fatah al-Islam militants charged with committing "acts of terrorism" since fighting first broke out on May 20.If convicted they could face the death sentence. The accused, all in custody, include 28 Lebanese, one Lebanese-Syrian, one Syrian and one Palestinian, judicial sources said. The military prosecutor has also launched proceedings in absentia against a Lebanese national in custody in Saudi Arabia on the same charges.
Some of the militants were detained while trying to flee the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon where the Islamist group has been under army siege since May 20. Fatah al-Islam militants have killed 44 Lebanese soldiers since the clashes erupted at the camp and the nearby Mediterranean port city of Tripoli.
The accused are charged with "forming armed groups to attack civilians, the authority of the state and its civil and military institutions, and carrying out terrorist actions which killed or injured military personnel and civilians," according to a judicial source.
Fatah al-Islam is a shadowy Sunni Muslim extremist group which first officially appeared in Lebanon in November. It is not a Palestinian group, although it has established its base in Nahr al-Bared. Most of its members are Islamists of various Arab nationalities who are ideologically close to the Al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden. The government, pushing for a peaceful end to the standoff, has insisted the group hand over fighters to stand trial over attacks against its armed forces.
The group has vowed no surrender although the mainstream Palestinian faction Fatah has said several members have turned in themselves and their weapons.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 06 Jun 07, 19:50