At Ain el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, a growing number of young men want to enlist with jihadist combatants in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported
Ain el-Hilweh’s connection to the war in Syria was driven home Tuesday, after a bomb blast killed 25 people outside the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a jihadist group with al-Qaida ties, claimed responsibility for the bombing and demanded that the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah withdraw its fighters from Syria.
The leader of the brigades — Saudi national Majed Bin-Mohammed al-Majed — previously lived in Ain el-Hilweh. Currently on Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted terrorist list, he is believed to be fighting in Syria, according to the Journal.
At Ain el-Hilweh, many young people no longer dream of creating a Palestinian state. Instead, they are interested in going to Syria to fight for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad.
Munir el-Makdah, leader of the Fatah faction that represents the Palestinian Authority at Ain el-Hilweh, said he lacks the financial resources to compete with the jihadists for the hearts and minds of young Palestinians.
"In my day, it was about resisting Israel, none of this religious fight," el-Makdah said. "Fatah has lost the majority of control over the camps because we can't provide anymore.”
Islamic militants, he added,“are much more organized and have much more money."
"We are putting up the flags of al-Qaida ourselves," said Ahmed Abdullah, an unemployed 18-year-old high-school dropout who said he wants to be a fighter in Syria.
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