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“With friends like these…” Is Syria seeing a spill over from Iraq?

On 24 April 2012, Abdel-Ghani Jawhar, head of Fatah-al-Islam, Lebanon’s most wanted militant Islamist terrorist, was reportedly killed assisting the Syrian rebels in Qusayr, close to the embattled city of Homs. Jawhar allegedly detonated himself accidentally whilst preparing an explosive device for the rebel groups to be used against the Syrian Army, raising questions about who is training the rebels in their armed struggle. Authorities believed Jawhar arrived in Qusayr in mid April, along with a group of 30 Lebanese fighters who called themselves mujahedeen seeking to help fellow Muslims under attack by the Syrian regime. Jawhar, who was wanted by Lebanese authorities for masterminding multiple bomb attacks against U.N. security forces in Lebanon, was an expert bomb-maker and had been implicated in over 20 other unsolved cases.

Attacks against Syrian forces have become increasingly sophisticated in recent months. The al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant, a previously unknown Syrian-based Sunni Islamist group founded in January 2011, have claimed responsibility for several suicide bombing attacks. It is unclear however if Jawhar had a direct influence on training the perpetrators of the attacks, but Syrian authorities are fearful that if the likes of militants like Jawhar are training the rebels, the attacks will become even more deadly.

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