Friday, June 15, 2007

North Lebanon fertile ground for Sunni militants

by Tom Perry from Reuters

The Fatah al-Islam militant group is reviled by many Lebanese, but its ideas resonate with hardline Sunni Islamists, raising the possibility of more violence. Fathi Yakan, leader of the Islamic Action Front (one of the biggest Sunni Islamist groups in Lebanon), said hardliners may take up arms against the state "out of fear that their turn will come" after Fatah al-Islam. "If they find that Fatah al-Islam is in trouble now, then these might act, perhaps they will cooperate with it, or even support it," said Yakan. "For this reason, the situation is getting more serious," said Yakan, listing the full range of Sunni Islamist schools of thought in Tripoli. They include the Salafi school that is linked to the Wahhabi beliefs followed by Osama bin Laden. Salafi Muslims believe they must follow strictly the practices of the Prophet Mohammad and his closest companions.

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