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Extremist Preacher Denies Al-Qaeda’s Presence in Lebanon

Salafist preacher Omar Bakri Fostock has denied that al-Qaeda maintains a presence in Lebanon, but doesn’t rule out the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the  country.
Islamist preacher Omar Bakri attends an interview with Reuters at his home in Tripoli, northern Lebanon May 24, 2013. Bakri praised Michael Adebolajo, one of the suspected killers of a British soldier in Woolwich, but said his actions were spontaneous and that he acted alone. Syrian-born Bakri, who founded the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, was banished from Britain in 2005. REUTERS/Stringer (LEBANON - Tags: CRIME LAW RELIGION CIVIL UNREST) - RTXZYWR

News recently spread on Lebanese websites about the first conference held by al-Qaeda in Lebanon in the northern city of Tripoli. The websites reported that the Salafist preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Fostock participated in the conference, titled “The Islamic Forum for Estranged Sunnis in Lebanon.” Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s black flags — bearing the expression, "There is no god except God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God" — were raised in the Marj Zhour square in ​​the Abi Samra district of Tripoli.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor on July 30, 2013, Bakri said that he “refuses to describe any person raising the black flag of the Messenger of God as an al-Qaeda member, a terrorist or a takfiri, in addition to other descriptions used by some to justify the arrests of supporters of the Syrian revolution in Lebanon.” Bakri added, “Nowadays, no one can stop us from carrying these black flags, the flags of the noble Prophet. We are not to be held responsible if al-Qaeda carries the same flags.”

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