Why did Lebanon's security chief praise terrorism during a counter-terror speech?

Alluding to Hezbollah, he said that terrorism that terrorizes enemies is not only a right, but a duty.

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November 29, 2018 00:33
2 minute read.
A Hezbollah member carries his weapon on top of a building on May 25, 2016.

A Hezbollah member carries his weapon on top of a building on May 25, 2016.. (photo credit: HASSAN ABDALLAH / REUTERS)

 
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Lebanon’s General Security director praised terrorism during a conference that was supposed to discuss the defeat of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. Speaking to representatives from a dozen African countries Maj.-Gen. Abbas Ibrahim reportedly praised Hezbollah’s “resistance” and distinguished its terrorism from other forms of terror.

The two-day event was titled “Defeat of Terrorism in the Region and its Impact on Africa” and was attended by African delegates from a swath of countries affected by terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa. That includes Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic. Diplomats from Tunisia, Oman, Egypt and Russia also attended according to the website Arab News. Ibrahim runs Lebanon’s General Security directorate, which makes him the “eyes and ears” of Lebanon according to and gives his agency power over a variety of local and foreign threats to Lebanon.

He has praised Hezbollah’s “resistance” in the past and was appointed in 2011 with influence by Amal, a Shi’ite party. At the conference, according to multiple reports at Lebanese websites Aliwaa.com and Aljoumhouria, he distinguished between two types of terrorism.

“Terrorism that terrorizes your enemy, and this is not only your right but your duty,” Ibrahim said. “Then there is [the second kind of] terrorism that intimidates innocent people.” The second kind he said was the “lowest level of moral decline and ideological decline.”

He said that Lebanon supports the “resistance,” which is a reference to Hezbollah and that “we are with our resistance and terrorism.” He claimed that even if others call that terrorism it was a source of pride.


David Daoud, a Research Analyst on Hezbollah and Lebanon at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) tweeted about the incident, noting the irony that in offering Lebanon’s “counterterrorism expertise,” the security chief was also praising Hezbollah.


“Ibrahim is one of Lebanon’s most important security officials,” Daoud noted. He reports directly to Lebanese President Michael Aoun and coordinated with the US and other countries on security. “He didn’t voice his support for Hezbollah by name, but it’s clear what ‘resistance’ he was referring to.” By doing so, he was blurring the line between partisan support for Hezbollah and the official view of the Lebanese state, Daoud argues. “It amounts to another instance lending credence to the narrative that Hezbollah and the Lebanese state are indistinguishable.” Ibrahim is an example of that, a former military officer who has served in his position for two terms, is widely seen as not just a security chief, but playing a political role as well.

Besides his nod to Hezbollah, Ibrahim’s message for African countries facing terrorism is that they needed the political will and security forces necessary to fight terror.

“Our information indicates that terrorism, though weakened, has not faded and is still flexible,” Ibrahim said. He pointed to new methods, such as lone wolf attacks. With 40 terrorist groups operating in Africa, according to one of the organizers of the conference, African states face a challenge. With 600,000 Lebanese in Africa, the groups affect both Africa and the Middle East. This includes movement of terrorists from west Africa and the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and vice-versa.

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