Source: The Daily Star – The majority of Palestinian factions in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp(Sidon – Lebanon) Sunday claimed that one of Lebanon’s most wanted Islamist fugitives had left the south Lebanon camp over the weekend.
According to security sources in the camp, the calm presiding over the suspected residence of Islamist fugitive Shadi Mawlawi in Ain al-Hilweh has led the majority of Palestinian officials in the camp to conclude that he vacated the area early Saturday morning. “There is no light in the house, and there are no gunmen gathered around it,” the source said.
Not all Palestinian factions however, were willing to confirm Mawlawi’s absence. The Islamic group Osbat al-Ansar has said that it would not announce Mawlawi’s withdrawal from the camp until it had factual confirmation that he was no longer in Ain al-Hilweh.
Osbat al-Ansar officials have warned of the possibility of Mawlawi moving from one area in the camp to another – offering an alternative explanation as to why his alleged residence has been vacated.
Mawlawi, who fled Tripoli after the Lebanese Army cracked down on Islamist militants in the northern city in October, was wanted for his links to the Jan. 10 double suicide bombing in the Jabal Mohsen district that killed at least nine people and wounded more than 30 others. He was also wanted in connection to a series of suicide bombing attempts that have been foiled by the Army.
Ain al-Hilweh, the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps, was being closely monitored following the bombings in Tripoli.
News of Mawlawi’s exit from Ain al-Hilweh comes two days after Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Movement’s Central Committee, held talks with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk detailing the readiness of the Palestinian factions to cooperate with Lebanese authorities in finding a peaceful solution to the problem of fugitives being sheltered in the camp.
Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh asked their representatives Friday to contact militants, who reportedly know the whereabouts of Mawlawi, to convince the fugitive to discreetly leave the camp in order to avert a military clash with the Lebanese Army stationed at the camp’s entrances, the sources said.
Although the response to the Islamist groups’ demand was only partially positive, sources Friday had said it may bear fruit, with Mawlawi potentially leaving the camp in the next few hours in the same manner he had entered it.