Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Black-Masked Commandos Training By The Sea [W. Thomas Smith Jr.]
DBAYEH – Here on the seacoast between Beirut and Jounieh, a handful of men — dressed in black and brown utility uniforms, wearing black ski-masks (to conceal their identities), and armed with Fabrique Nationale P-90 submachine guns — rush into a small building and begin shooting terrorists. The terrorists aren't real (They are only paper targets): The bullets are.
Clearing the rooms within seconds, the Fouhoud (Panthers), members of an elite 100-man Lebanese counterterrorist strike force, check their targets. Every bullet has struck the head or the heart of several man-sized silhouette targets placed throughout the building.
This show — along with rappelling, sniper firing, and a VIP protection and rescue demonstration — was prepared for me by the Lebanese Interior Security Forces (ISF), the national police. They want the American people to understand they are just as committed as we are to fighting bad guys in the War on Terror. The Fouhoud are also trained to storm commercial aircraft, buses, and anywhere else bad guys snatch hostages and kill people. Their performance here is pretty convincing.
As I follow closely behind the commandos into the building, their smiling, young commander, Lt. Wissam Baz, tells me (in impeccable English): “This building has saved many lives.”
Indeed it has. For it was in this building that Fouhoud trained for the initial raid against Fatah al Islam in Tripoli last May, which led to the now-famous Battle of Nahr al Bared.
Baz, the only man not concealed by a black calgool (mask), actually commanded the raid against Fatah al Islam, which netted 16 killed terrorists in a day-long gunbattle with no friendly losses. “Thank God,” he says.
Also with us here is Baz's boss, Gen. Elias Moghabghab, deputy commanding general of the “mobile forces” of the ISF, which also includes the anti-riot forces. I had tea and coffee with Moghabghab, Baz, a few other Lebanese officers, and my security man earlier in the general's office.
“Terrorism has no nationality,” the general tells me. “Fighting them is a must, and the Americans and the Lebanese must work together in this. The terrorists are against God and humanity. They worship their own God, and their own thoughts. It is not an Islamic God. Their beliefs are a distortion of Islam.”
Editor’s note: Please see this note.
10/10 09:30 AMShare