One of the most wanted suspects hiding out in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh was arrested by the Lebanese Army Wednesday, in the second security operation of its kind in a month.
A security source said that Palestinian suspect Hasan Nawfal was captured after an Army Intelligence unit, in an exceptional move, entered the camp with the help of two Ain al-Hilweh residents. Palestinian refugee camps are de facto off limits to Lebanese authorities.
Nawfal, informally known as “Al-Hakim,” is a prominent passport and identification documents counterfeiter in the camp, a statement from the Army reported.
He has been wanted for forgery, most notably for forging a passport for Ahmad al-Assir, who led the 2013 Abra clashes against the Army that killed 20 and injured 150 others. Assir was escaping through Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport when he was caught with the forged passport. Nawfal reportedly also forged other identification documents as well as money.
Nawfal’s arrest is significant in that it was the second of its kind in less than a month. On Sept. 18, Army Intelligence arrested Bahaa Hujeir from the same camp in a similar fashion, quickly entering and exiting the camp.
Hujeir is believed to be linked to Mouin Abu Daher, a suspect in the 2013 Iranian Embassy bombing. Abu Daher, who hailed from the southern city of Sidon, where Ain al-Hilweh is located, was one of two suicide bombers who allegedly carried out the attack that killed 30 people and wounded over 150 others.
Wednesday’s operation was carried out in two steps, aided by a husband-wife team. First, Nawfal was lured out of his house with the help of a woman inside the camp and then led toward the exit of the camp with the help of her husband, identified as Hussein Issa. After this, Nawfal was drugged and taken to a hospital in Sidon, according to a source with knowledge of the arrest. He was then questioned after recovering.
Earlier in the day, Army Intelligence also arrested a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, identified as T.H., though sources did not specify what the wanted suspect was accused of.
The same sources said that the arrest of “Al-Hakim” was just one piece of a wider operation. “His arrest will facilitate the revelation of more security information because of his knowledge of many wanted suspects who are considered a direct threat to the security of the camp and outside of it,” one source said.
More developments took place late Wednesday with relatives of “Al-Hakim” raiding the house of Issa, the man who had helped lure him out. “His wife fled as the relatives broke into the home. They raided the house and left,” a security source said.
Issa was also wanted for shooting at the Army previously. “There was a deal cut with the Army where he would help them in [Wednesday’s arrest] and they would lessen his sentence,” the source said, adding that he was now in the custody of the Army. “After the operation during the day, the Army took him with them.” Issa is Palestinian-Iraqi.
Other than the relatives’ raid on the Issa house, there was no apparent opposition or protests against the operation from within the camp. This suggests that the suspect did not enjoy the political cover previously enjoyed by wanted persons in the camp.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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