Two days earlier, the Lebanese security agencies managed to foil a suicide attack in Beirut’s Hamra. Army and security forces arrested a man wearing an explosive belt as he was planning to blow himself up in Costa café in the main street in Hamra.
Lebanese daily al-Akhbar narrates what happened on Saturday (January 21, 2017)) and how the army intelligence forces, backed by Internal Security Forces (ISF), pursued the would-be bomber, Omar Hasan al-Assi and prevented him from committing a massacre in the café.
“Saturday was not a normal day. For, the security apparatus expected a suicide attack after receiving a warning that ISIL-affiliated cells were planning attacks against civil targets,” Redwan Mortada reported on Monday.
“The goal was not definite or clear. But it was limited in three areas in the capital: Downtown, Jimmeizeh and Hamra,” the Lebanese reporter said, noting that these information relied on confessions by a suspect who was arrested earlier on Friday in Wadi Khaled.
The Wadi Khaled, who was an ISIL operator according to Mortada, confessed to planning a suicide attack in Beirut, and explosive materials were seized with him while being arrested.
This information intersected with similar warnings the army intelligence directorate received from ISF’s Information Branch, al-Akhbar detailed. The Intelligence officers obtained the phone number of the would-be suicide bomber, but his identity was still unknown.
Despite the fact that the al-Assi was repeatedly turning his mobile off in a bid to distract attention, intelligence officers managed to track him by setting up several ambushes one of them was at Cola area in the capital, according to the report.
The other ambush was at the Costa café in Hamra, where intelligence forces awaited him. At first these forces were not able to identify al-Assi, but they did so as the confused would-be suicide bomber went out of the café to make a telephone calls, Mortada reported.
As soon as the intelligence forces identified al-Assi, they came unexpectedly upon him when he reentered the café. The forces, who are well-trained to neutralize suicide bombers, tied up al-Assi’s arms in order to prevent him from detonating himself, Mortada said, adding that they also hit him in the head before dismantling the explosive belt and then arresting him.
Al-Akhbar reporter quote d sources as saying that al-Assi was confused because the café was not crowded. As he was waiting for more people to get into the café, al-Assi asked the waiter about the rush hour, according to the sources.
Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper