A top Lebanese government official warned his nation Tuesday night that the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization appears to be establishing, or already to have established, a base in Lebanon.
Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn told OTV in an interview broadcast that "extremists are sneaking into" Lebanon -- among them, Al Qaeda operatives.
The Lebanese Army has reports on the matter, he added, but would not disclose any further information, citing issues of national security "for the sake of the country and its people." Former Defense Minister Elias al-Murr "has made [similar reports]," Ghosn told the interviewer.
"I have presented information [on the matter] to the Cabinet. What interest do I have in making such an announcement if there is no information on it?" he pointed out, responding to criticism from fellow legislators, primarily among the Western-backed March 14 Alliance group, according to NOW Lebanon, which reported on the interview.
This is not the first time Ghosn has issued such an alert, according to the news agency, which reported Wednesday morning the minister had warned of the presence of Al-Qaeda in the town of Aarsal near the Syrian border last month.
A'arsal, famous for its handmade carpets, is located in Wadi Al-Toun (Toun Valley) near Ba'albek in the Beka'a Valley, about 122 kilometers (76 miles) from Beirut. Ba'albeck was the site of a number of fierce battles between the IDF and Hizbullah guerrilla fighters during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.