In early August, the Islamic State expanded their operations into Lebanon after capturing a series of border posts in Western Iraq. ISIS fighters executed a sophisticated attack consisting of waves of troops overrunning Lebanese border posts and the activation of ISIS cells in Tripoli which carried out small-scale assaults in the country’s largest northern city. The raids resulted in the United States approving an emergency shipment of weapons to Lebanon aimed at boosting the nation’s defensive capabilities.
The Islamic State captured approximately two dozen members of the Lebanese security forces in that August incursion and threatened to summarily execute them by beheading. Reports now indicate that ISIS has begun make good on that grim threat.
“ISIS beheaded a second Lebanese soldier, a commander with the extremist group told Turkish news agency Anadolu Saturday, blaming it on an escape attempt by the captive,” The Lebanese news outlet Daily Star reported on over the weekend.
“Yes, we slaughtered Lebanese soldier Abbas Medlej because he attempted to escape,” the ISIS leader told Anadolu.
The news agency said the ISIS commander hailed from the Syrian region of Qalamoun, adding that its reporter communicated with him through the Internet.
According to the ISIS commander, Medlej said he was going to the bathroom but shot at ISIS members instead. The militant fell short on explaining how the Lebanese soldier acquired the weapon he used, Anadolu reported.
The 24-year-old decapitation victim would be the second Lebanese solider executed by ISIS in this brutal fashion. “On Wednesday, the first Lebanese soldier, Sgt. Ali Sayid, was buried in Lebanon a week after militants posted a video of his decapitation,” The Huffington Post reported on Saturday.
Militants have demanded the release of Islamist prisoners in exchange for the hostages, but the Lebanese government has rejected a prisoner swap, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.
The Lebanese government is not optimistic that the hostage crisis can be resolved before more blood is shed.
On @BBCNewshour , Lebanon PM asked whether expects more Leb soldiers to be beheaded. Painful answer is yes. Powerful intrvw.
— Kim Ghattas (@BBCKimGhattas) September 8, 2014
The Lebanese are no more accustomed to having their sons beheaded by the ISIS terrorists than are Americans. Anger is erupting in Lebanon over the actions of the Islamic State and, according to the Associated Press, some residents are taking their frustrations out on the millions of displaced Syrians in that country.
The men’s continued detention has also inflamed already bad sectarian relations in Lebanon between Sunnis and Shiites. Relations have been steadily worsening, inflamed over the Syrian civil war, as Sunnis generally back rebel groups and Shiites support the government of President Bashar Assad.
The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah has actively fought on the Syrian government side, and some Sunnis blame Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syria war for the soldiers being seized. Some Shiites see Sunni extremism as the chief problem.
“But we must know that the discord that the terrorists seek, made easy by the ignorant and the easily misled, provides an entry for the destruction of our national harmony,” [Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam] Salam said.