Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda handed death sentences Tuesday to four people accused of involvement in two suicide attacks last year against security checkpoints in Beirut and east Lebanon.
According to the indictment obtained by The Daily Star, Mahmoud Abu Abbas, Hussein Kamel Zahran, Ahmad Abdulkarim Homayed and the emir of the Al-Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades Sirajeddine Zureiqat were all sentenced to death.
They were convicted of plotting bombings that struck the Dahr al-Baidar police checkpoint in east Lebanon on June 20 that killed one and wounded more than 30, and an Army checkpoint in the Beirut suburb of Tayyouneh three days later that killed one and wounded about 25.
Of the four convicts, only Abu Abbas is in custody.
According to the indictment, the charges brought against the suspects include having an affiliation to a terrorist organization and conspiring to carry out the June 2014 bombings.
The suspects are accused of rigging a Nissan Murano with explosives, smuggling the rigged car into Lebanon from Syria via the northeastern border town of Arsal, and handing the car over to Syrian national Ahmad Haidar who carried out the Dahr al-Baidar attack.
The interrogation of Abu Abbas revealed that the Dahr al-Baidar bombing initially targeted Beirut’s southern suburbs. The suicide bomber, however, blew himself in east Lebanon after security forces intercepted his vehicle.
Abu Abbas confessed to heading to the Syrian town of Rankous last year, where he was trained by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group.
During his training, Abu Abbas met the notorious Zureiqat, who convinced him to carry out a suicide bombing “in service of religion.”
The emir of the Brigades then sent Abu Abbas two explosive-rigged vehicles that he stored in his garage. Zureiqat also ordered Abu Abbas to survey Beirut’s southern suburbs where he and Haidar were set to carry out the attacks.
One day later, Abu Abbas met with two Syrian suicide bombers who he identified as Abu Ahmad and Abu Ali in the Zahle town of Chtaura. Abu Ahmed is believed to be the nickname of Ahmad Haidar. The two suicide bombers then headed to Beirut’s southern suburbs where they surveyed the Sayyed al-Shuhada complex, the al-Qaem complex, and the al-Raya stadium – the intended targets of the attacks.
According to the suspect’s confessions, the three were planning to carry out a twin suicide bombing in Beirut’s southern suburbs whereby the first suspect would blow up the Murano while the second would blow himself up in the middle of the crowd that would gather after the blast.
On June 20, Abu Ahmad (Haidar), who was set to drive the Murano to Beirut’s southern suburbs, blew himself up in Dahr al-Baidar instead after security forces intercepted his vehicle.
Three days later, Abu Ali blew himself up near an Army checkpoint in Tayyouneh, at one of the main entrances to the capital’s southern suburbs, killing one police officer and wounding 25.