Conflict & Justice

In Lebanon, reactions from 5 people who face terror threats daily


Lebanese security forces and forensic experts gather at the site of an explosion in the Haret Hreik neighborhood in southern Beirut on January 22, 2014.


Joseph Eid

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Traveling to the suburb of Dahiya in Beirut’s south is not as easy as it used to be. Checkpoints and soldiers man every street. Cars and ID’s are thoroughly checked. Barricades have been erected around many businesses and public buildings preventing potential car bombs from getting too close. On Friday, men were busy building a wall of sandbags at the front of one local bank.

The area has been targeted by three suicide bombings in the past three months. Three different Sunni militant groups, all with links to Al Qaeda, have claimed responsibility for each attack. A fourth attack occurred on a public minibus en route to Dahiya earlier this month. Investigators believe the intended target was again Dahiya, which is a stronghold of the Shia political and military group Hezbollah. Following each attack, social media campaigns have hailed the bombers as martyrs and threatened local civilians with recurring attacks if Hezbollah and Iran — two of the Syrian regime’s strongest supporters — do not withdraw their support and, in the case of Hezbollah, ground troops from inside Syria.

GlobalPost traveled to Dahiya Friday to see how the escalating hostilities are affecting local citizens. Here’s what five of them had to say.


“I think these things will happen more and more in the near future. Even if they block the border [with Syria] and they can stop more suicide bombers from coming to Lebanon, there are already many here and they are ready to go for it.”
Ali Ballout — Manager of Atwi & Younes ceramic tile showroom

“Of course people here are afraid of explosions. But for me, I fought in the Iraq-Iran war for eight years. I was injured in the army. I witnessed the whole war and it was hell, so for me this is nothing. But for women and children in this area, of course they are very afraid.”
Maarfat Thakafi, 52 — Iranian rug storeowner


‘We are losing business from this’

“When the rockets hit here a few months ago, the whole area shut down commercially. People were afraid to come here to buy. It was a very bad time for us. Whenever we have attacks like this we have these problems.” 
Ali Kassir, 22 — Clothing store cashier 

“The extra security measures here do make us feel secure — totally secure. But on the other hand, regarding business, before we used to get a lot of traffic coming through here, but now they go around this area because the checkpoints take a long time to get through. So we are losing business from this.”
Ali Ballout — Manager of Atwi & Younes ceramic tile showroom

‘These attacks will go on’

On Wednesday the Lebanese army captured Naim Abbas, a commander in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades — the group responsible for the double suicide bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19. The same day, the army located and disarmed two explosive-laden vehicles. Under interrogation, Abbas reportedly confessed to the existence of other car bombs bound for Dahiya, which has led to an ongoing search by security forces.

“Somehow this [Abbas' arrest] has made us feel comfortable, but it doesn’t mean this is the end. As long as groups like these people adopting terrorism exist, these attacks will go on. But we will stay with Hezbollah until death.”
Samira, 38 — mother and manager of military supply store.

“Two days ago, after the army caught [Abbas] and the car bombs, I was telling people this group will try to make more actions in revenge for this, and now they have threatened more car bombs and more attacks.”
Maarfat Thakafi, 52 — Iranian rug storeowner

'This is not war. This is terrorism.'

On Thursday, a video posted on YouTube celebrated the Iranian embassy bombing which killed 26 and injured around 150 more. The 18-minute video threatened that these attacks “are only the beginning”. The video featured a pre-recorded interview with Abu Dahr, one of the Iranian embassy suicide bombers, who vowed these attacks would continue claiming the number of those “who are ready to martyr themselves is greater than the party’s members.”

“These attacks are very ugly — not just the bombers but the people behind those people. What do they feel? Is this victory? What is this? What kind of victory can they achieve from these explosions? Killing innocent people! What did I do? I am a doctor? Am I guilty? The same with the others. 26 people died. And this man says he is traveling to Allah? What does he want from Allah? A reward for what he has done? This is not war. This is terrorism.” 
Doctor Ali Abdel Halim Kanso — Dr. Kanso was permanently injured in both his left arm and leg and suffered from shrapnel wounds across his body in the November Iranian Embassy blasts.

“It’s not that I feel anger, I feel more sympathy for those who were killed. They were blown apart, and so many more were injured. I even feel pity for the suicide bomber himself. They put a lot of bad things in his mind — they loaded his mind with bad ideas to make him do that.”
Ali Ballout — Manager of Atwi & Younes ceramic tile showroom

“They accuse all Shia in the world of being related to Iran, so they believe wrongly that by attacking them they are fighting Iran. But I believe these suicide bombers are fighting development and technology and the future, especially of the Shia people. But no one can stop the future. These bombers can never win, never. It’s like going against the traffic.”
Maarfat Thakafi, 52 — Iranian rug store owner


“They think they scare us? No! We have our prophets and our God. We can withstand more than this, no problem, because what we are doing is right. Hezbollah in Syria? Of course they are in Syria because if they were not these people would be here in my home. 
OK, Bashar Assad he makes many mistakes, but we are all human. We can repair. We can do something by logic, but they do not want logic, only war, war war!”

Doctor Ali Abdel Halim Kanso