Al-Qaeda members have not sought refuge in Lebanon, Hizbullah’s secretary-general said Friday, refuting Israeli and US allegations linking Lebanon to the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.
Nasrallah refused to confirm or deny that Hizbullah had received up to 10,000 katyushas from Iran in the last six months. “Whether we possess the arms or not, we have the right to purchase them,” Nasrallah said, adding that he would not be surprised to also find one day the anti-aircraft fire directed at Israeli warplanes violating Lebanese airspace also classified as “terrorist acts.”
According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, Nasrallah said the issue of Israeli warplanes and Hizbullah’s anti-aircraft guns was raised only after his party moved the shooting to the frontline, where “the booms are heard by the first-degree human beings, the chosen people … the Jews who were brought from all over the world to the northern settlements.”
Nasrallah spoke at a graduation ceremony of 350 Hizbullah-affiliated university students at Shahed School in Burj al-Barajneh.
He ridiculed claims that Al-Qaeda has established a presence in Lebanon. “Where are they hiding? With Hizbullah? He said: “This is a lie and an accusation that is of no value.”
“If Al-Qaeda members were really able to come out of Afghanistan and travel all the way to Lebanon and hide here, then this is major proof of the failure of American security, intelligence and weapons,” Nasrallah declared.
“You might be surprised later that Sheikh Osama bin Laden appears to be in Haret Hreik,” he said, drawing a burst of laughter from the 1,000-strong audience.
He played down tacit threats made by U.S. President George W. Bush against Hizbullah and states supporting the Palestinians, insisting that the United States would not succeed in future campaigns the way it had in Afghanistan. “The world offered its consent to America for its war against Afghanistan, but America cannot continue like this because the conditions that were available directly after Sept. 11 no longer exist,” he said, alluding to Europe’s clear disagreement with Bush’s post-Taleban policies.
Also on Friday, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud categorically denied allegations about the presence of Al-Qaeda members and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the country, blaming Israel for the “lies and accusations.” Hammoud said the recurring Israeli “distortions” were aimed, above all, to divert attention from the Palestinian issue.
“Israel’s campaign shows it has been unable to find a way out of the impasse in which it has placed itself regarding the peace process and the events happening in the Palestinian territories,” he said.
Lebanese justice minister Samir al-Jisr, in statements published in Cairo Thursday denied U.S. reports that there were training camps for al-Qaeda group in south Lebanon and the Bekaa valley.
Al-Jisr told al-Ahram newspaper that the ideological gap between Hizbullah and al-Qaeda was very big, reiterating that Hizbullah is a resistance group that has the right to defend the Lebanese land.
The U.S. reports came after Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer said Tuesday that Hizbullah force in Lebanon has become the main threat to Israel because of its supporters in Iran and Syria.
Hizbullah has become "most aggressive" as it is being infiltrated by the al Qaeda organization headed by Osama bin Laden, the Israeli minister said. Israel has also accused Iran and Syria of arming Hizbullah. Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres said Monday that Iran has shipped 10,000 rockets to Lebanon, which could hit cities "in the heart of Israel." (Albawaba.com)