It hasn’t happened yet, but support for Al Qaeda and similar movements is growing among Lebanon’s Sunni community as the country’s Shiite Hezbollah fights on behalf of Bashar al-Assad.
A slew of car bombings, suicide attacks, and cross-border rocket barrages of Shiite areas of Lebanon over the past nine months by groups allied to the goals of Al Qaeda is raising concerns that the organization could formally expand its operations into Lebanon.
So far the attacks on Shiite areas appear less of a strategic push by Al Qaeda-linked militants to establish a base in Lebanon and more of a tactical backlash to the armed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad provided by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a Shiite militia and political party. And Al Qaeda’s leadership has made no explicit announcement designating Lebanon a legitimate “theater of jihad.”
Yet the war in neighboring Syria and rising tensions between Lebanese Shiites and Sunnis is creating a more fertile environment for Al Qaeda in Lebanon, analysts and Islamists say.