As a well-known Christian ally of Hizbullah issues threats against the Beirut government, there are rumors that an Al-Qaeda-backed cell has taken root in the country's refugee camps.
The well-known Christian Lebanese leader Michel Aoun, whose Free Patriotic Movement is allied with the Islamist Hizbullah movement, issued a threat against the central government in Beirut this week. In a video address to a protest demonstration, the former prime minister and military commander warned that Fouad Siniora would face stepped up opposition in coming days if he does not agree to the demands of the government's Shi'a factions for greater power.
Aoun said that the opposition, led by the Shi'a and pro-Syrian Hizbullah and Amal organizations, is committed "to peaceful means, but even other means would be legitimate."
The Amal and Hizbullah members of Lebanon's government, along with one FPM member, stepped down in November. Immediately thereafter, Hizbullah began agitating against the government and organizing anti-government protests. The crisis deepened when a Christian minister of the well-known Gemayel family was assassinated by unidentified gunmen on November 21.
Hizbullah spokesmen have meanwhile charged that members of the main political bloc in the Siniora government collaborated with Israel and the US against Lebanon during the summer war between Hizbullah and the Jewish State. The motivation for the collaboration, Hizbullah said, was to eliminate the governmental opposition.
Reacting to the claims, Siniora said on Saturday that they were "foolish," and he confirmed that, to the contrary, his government and Hizbullah had coordinated positions during the recent war. "We avoided taking unilateral decisions," Siniora said. "We were constantly discussing issues with Speaker [Nabih] Berri [of the Amal group], who was the sole mediator between the Lebanese government and Hizbullah during the war."
Concurrently, there have been rumors that an Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist terrorist group drawing recruits from among Arabs in Palestinian refugee camps has infiltrated from Iraq into Lebanon's refugee community. The group, known as Fatah Al-Islam, has sent 150 terrorists into the country, according to the Lebanese branch of the Palestinian Authority-based Fatah group.