Asbat al-Ansar

From: "Chapter 8; Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, US Department of State, April 30, 2006.

a.k.a. League of the Followers
Partisans' League

Asbat al-Ansar, the League of the Followers or Partisans' League, is a Lebanon-based Sunni extremist group composed primarily of Palestinians with links to Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida organization and other Sunni extremist groups. Asbat is well positioned to play an important role should Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi attempt to expand further his terrorist operations to Lebanon. The group follows an extremist interpretation of Islam that justifies violence against civilian targets to achieve political ends. Some of the group's goals include overthrowing the Lebanese Government and thwarting perceived anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in the country.

Asbat al-Ansar has carried out multiple terrorist attacks in Lebanon since it first emerged in the early 1990s. The group assassinated Lebanese religious leaders and bombed nightclubs, theaters, and liquor stores in the mid-1990s. It was involved in clashes in northern Lebanon in December 1999 and carried out a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Russian Embassy in Beirut in January 2000. Asbat al-Ansar's leader, Ahmad Abd al-Karim al-Sa'di a.k.a. Abu Muhjin, remains at large despite being sentenced to death in absentia for the 1994 murder of a Muslim cleric.

In October 2003, Lebanese security forces arrested Ibn al-Shahid, who is believed to be associated with Asbat al-Ansar, and charged him with masterminding the bombing of three fast food restaurants in 2002 and an attempted car bomb attack on a McDonald's restaurant in Beirut in 2003. Asbat forces were involved in other violence in Lebanon in 2003, including clashes with members of Yassir Arafat's Fatah movement in the 'Ayn al-Hilwah refugee camp and a June 2003 rocket attack in June on the Hariri-affiliated Future TV building in Beirut. Since 2003, the Lebanese Government has monitored Asbat al-Ansar and the group's activities have apparently been less successful. In September 2004, operatives with links to the group were believed to be involved in a planned terrorist operation targeting the Italian Embassy, the Ukrainian Consulate General, and Lebanese Government offices. In October 2004, Mahir al-Sa'di, a member of Asbat al-Ansar, was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for plotting to assassinate former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield in 2000. Al-Sa'di was working in cooperation with Abu Muhammad al-Masri, the head of al-Qaida at the 'Ayn al-Hilwah refugee camp, where fighting has occurred between Asbat al-Ansar and Fatah elements.

The group commands about 300 fighters in Lebanon.

Location/Area of Operation
The group's primary base of operations is the ‘Ayn al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.

External Aid
Probably receives money through international Sunni extremist networks.