Thursday, 31 May 2012

Who is Hani al-Shanti, Apprehended by the Army in Caracas?

Local Editor*

Dauntless security and military efforts, spearheaded by the Lebanese Army in Ras Beirut area of Caracas on May 23, 2012, caused the killing of Syrian gunman Samer Abu Akl, nicknamed Samer al-Masri, as well as the arrest of Hani al-Shanti--a Lebanese of Jordanian descent-and Syrian national Gharam Nawras al-Hussein.

According to the Army, one officer and many soldiers on-duty were injured, while breaking into the apartment where the gunmen were harboring.

The Caracas incident fanned ripple surprise among the Lebanese milieus, in terms of the timing and the quality of targets, especially that al-Shanti was jailed on charges of belonging to al-Qaeda.

Who is Hani al-Shanti?

"Hani al-Shanti, born 1980, has served five years in Roumieh Prison on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. He was accused of belonging to al-Qaeda, following his trial by the Lebanese judiciary, along with his associates, with whom he had formed the so-called Group of 13, involved in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Much adhering to al-Qaeda notions, al-Shanti entered jail and tailored new relations with inmates involved in criminal cases, among whom Yamen Suleimani--better known as Fadi-imprisoned on fraud charges.

Suleimani, Syrian, was killed during the very Caracas operation.

Just a few months ago, al-Shanti got out of jail and tried to acquire a passport in order to leave Lebanon, according to close sources. Based on his tallies, al-Shanti said at times that he sought to leave the country to steer clear of the criminal stain he was tarnished with, and at other times that he sought to distance himself from his al-Qaeda fellows.

Security memos indicate that al-Shanti, a computer engineer, has stayed in many localities of Beirut, such as Ramlet el-Baida, Basta Tahta, Tariq al-Jdide and its outskirts, and especially in Ain al-Rummaneh and Khalda.

The indictment on the Group of 13 stated that al-Shanti and the group's members shared the ideologies of Jihad, Tahrir, and Takfir (blasphemy) against Arab and Islamic regimes as well as against Lebanese confessions. Al-Shanti was even found a key associate in the group's logistic operations conducted between Lebanon and Syria. Besides, some members were maintaining ties to Abu Adas, who claimed responsibility for Hariri's assassination.

While official reports spoke of a coincidence that appeared as security forces were intervening to mitigate a [personal] dispute, informed sources told al-Intiqad that there was no happenstance as such. Instead, there was a well-arranged and premeditated plan executed by the security forces, regardless of the "popular mood prevailing in the Lebanese street."

The sources also revealed that what happened in Caracas had to do with the ongoing security work in the North with the aim of fighting al-Qaeda and groups labeled by the Lebanese security thesaurus as "extremist" and "terrorist."

"Foreign Arab, regional, western and cross-continent states and sides are partners in this campaign which, whether pertinent or not, does certainly not depend on what the Lebanese think of it," informed sources told al-Intiqad.

"The security plan is to proceed with its course until it achieves its goals, thus far unknown to the Lebanese in general," they said."

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