December 25, 2010
Hizbollah Fears 'Qaeda' Type Attacks from Lebanese Sunnis
Personally I would root for both of the terrorist/Islamists groups to lose.
A day after the radical "Salafist" Sunni preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri was arrested last month, having been sentenced in absentia by a Lebanese court to life imprisonment on terrorism charges, he received an unexpected visitor in his holding cell at Beirut's police headquarters. Nawar Sahili, an MP from Lebanon's militant Shi'ite Hizballah movement — the Salafists' most powerful local enemy — and a lawyer by training, offered Bakri his legal services. See photographs from inside Hizballah
"I have been delegated by [Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah to represent you. He has heard your voice," Bakri recalls Sahili telling him. Hizballah's decision to help Bakri may seem odd given that the Salafist cleric has in the past criticized the Shi'ite organization. In 2007, he told a Lebanese newspaper that he rejected Hizballah's "armed cantons" in Lebanon, and questioned why the "resistance" against Israel should be monopolized by the Shi'ite sect. (Watch video of Hizballah's war theme park.)
Still, with a bleak future ahead of him, Bakri accepted Hizballah's offer and has since been released on bail pending a retrial scheduled for March.
"Now I'm working to bring Sunnis and Shi'ites together on certain issues, such as confronting Israel," Bakri said in his home in Tripoli, Lebanon's religiously conservative second largest city. (Watch video of Lebanon's land-mine soccer team.)
With Sunni-Shi'ite tensions on the rise in Lebanon, Hizballah has been seeking allies within the small but potentially dangerous Salafist community — a sect that generally does not even recognize the Shi'ite branch of Islam. Salafists practice an austere version of Sunni Islam that emulates the seventh century ideals of the Prophet Mohammed and his followers. While a majority of Salafist scholars reject terrorism, many al-Qaeda leaders claim to be inspired by the sect.