Crisis meeting in Lebanon over Al Qaida feud with Palestinians

Monday, March 3, 2003

NICOSIA Al Qaida's presence in Lebanon has been threatened by a widening feud with the Palestinian Fatah movement.

Two people, one of them an Al Qaida leader, have been killed in as many days in Lebanon's Ein Hilwe camp near Sidon. Palestinian sources had first blamed the killings on Israel, but have now acknowledged that the victims were part of a feud between the Al Qaida-aligned Usbat Al Ansar and Fatah.

On Saturday, an Usbat Ansar leader in Ein Hilwe, Abu Mohammed Al Masri, was killed in a car bombing. Al Masri, an Egyptian national also known as Mahmoud Al Bakri, came to Ein Hilwe in 1997 and was said to have been a key member of an Al Qaida cell that sought to attack Israeli and U.S. targets in Jordan in 1999.

On Sunday, another Usbat Ansar leader, Abdullah Shreidi, killed his cousin Nazih in Ein Hilwe. Nazih was identified as a member of the Palestinian Fatah group loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Shreidi was identified as the son of the late founder of Usbat. After his father's death, Shreidi headed the Usbat splinter group, Usbat Al Nur. Palestinian sources said Shreidi suspected that Nazih hurled a stun grenade toward the home of the Usbat leader on Saturday. The following day, Shreidi shot Nazih in broad daylight.

Scores of people fled the area of the attacks over the weekend in fear of widespread clashes between Fatah and Al Qaida. On Sunday, Fatah leaders convened in Ein Hilwe to discuss a response to the latest killing.

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