Home inContext Jabhat al-Nusra Spinoff Targets Lebanon

Jabhat al-Nusra Spinoff Targets Lebanon

Alex Finkelstein

Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed at least two Lebanese soldiers and one civilian. The blast occurred in the northeastern Lebanese town of Hermel, a predominantly Shia neighborhood and a Hezbollah stronghold.

Hundreds of miles of poorly guarded borders have allowed the Syrian conflict to spill over into neighboring countries. Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon, a spinoff group of the main body fighting in Syria, has committed terrorist bombings similar to those targeting Bashar al-Asad supporters in Syria.

The aftermath of a car bombing outside the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut last month. (Photo: AFP)

Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, one of the most prominent Sunni extremist groups fighting Bashar al-Asad, often employs terrorist attacks on government targets as it seeks to establish Sharia law. Following a recent feud between the group and the now disavowed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has gained influence throughout the region.

The area around Hermel recently faced other Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon attacks as well, including a January 16th car bombing that killed three people. The group hopes to inflict retribution on Hezbollah for supporting al-Asad in Syria.

Violence has not just been confined to Hermel and northeast Lebanon near Syria, but has also spread to Beirut and southern suburbs. On Wednesday Abdullah Azzam Brigades another Sunni terrorist group claimed responsibility for attacking the Iranian culture center in the capital. Lebanese politics has become increasingly paralyzed by the Syrian conflict; the government only recently formed a cabinet after 11 months of wrangling. Security has become a major concern for the Lebanese Armed Forces which has to defend a diverse country including Sunni as well as Shia interests from sectarian attacks.