Neo-fascist militia affiliated with Israel and the US on a rise in Lebanese capital: Report


By Muslim Mirror Web Desk

A new private militia made up of members of a neo-fascist organisation and created by politicians with ties to Israel and the US is just on rise in Beirut’s Achrafieh district.

The so-called “Neighborhood Watch” patrols Achrafieh’s streets every night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with torches and batons, employing at least 120 young men dubbed “guardian angels,” and with a reported yearly budget of $330,000.

The organization’s claimed goal is to “combat crime” in east Beirut’s primarily Christian and affluent region.

The Achrafieh 2020 civil organisation, which was started in 2012 by MP Nadim Gemayel, a member of the Kataeb party and the son of the late president, Bachir Gemayel, is the driving force behind the “Neighborhood Watch”.

Bachir Gemayel established the Christian Maronite Lebanese Forces (LF) militia at the outset of the Lebanese Civil War. This group, which is today supported by Saudi Arabia, was trained by Israel to combat the Lebanese National Movement (LNM).

Members of the LF committed a savage massacre in the Beirut district of Sabra and the nearby Shatila refugee camp a few days after Gemayel’s assassination in 1982.

With the aid of the occupying Israeli army, which had the region completely surrounded, the militia killed up to 3,500 civilians—Palestinians and Shi’ites—over the course of two days.

Even if the group’s commanders assert that it is “merely filling a gap” left by Lebanon’s underfunded and overworked police department, memories of the civil war and the subsequent massacres permeate the development of Beirut’s new militia.

The leaders of “Neighborhood Watch” deny any resemblance between their militia and the sectarian strategies employed during the 1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War, when militias patrolled their own regions under the guise of security. Additionally, organizers of the operation dispute assertions that it will exacerbate sectarian conflict in the country already in crisis.

“It’s not at all similar to the Civil War,” Achrafieh 2020 Secretary Akram Nehme told reporters last week.

“First, we’re not in a war situation. Second, we are in complete co-ordination with the police, the Mukhabarat (intelligence agencies) and all the necessary authorities that are needed to do our activity.”

He further asserted that militia members are only there to “monitor the neighbourhood” and alert the police, and that they have no authority to demand people’s identification or names.

Achrafieh 2020 is cooperating with the local security firm AMN to “manage logistical services and ensure the population’s welfare.” AMN Security is purportedly in charge of paying the ‘guardian angels,’ who are Achrafieh residents who earn $200 each month.

According to Nehme, the militia is funded by the local population, business owners, and the Lebanese diaspora. He further denied that its members are solely Kataeb or LF members, alleging that they also work with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), a Christian political group associated with Hezbollah.

Despite his assertions, one of the most notable financiers of the ‘Neighborhood Watch’ is Anton Sehnaoui, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Societe Generale Bank de Banque au Liban (SGBL).

Sehnaoui is a close associate of the ‘Soldiers of God,’ a far-right Christian militia created in 2020 by SGBL employee Joseph Mansour.

The Soldiers of God are ideological supporters of the LF and Kataeb parties, and they hold ultra-conservative values. Furthermore, they are vehemently opposed to Hezbollah’s existence as well as the presence of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

According to a report in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar, Sehnaoui has hired many Soldiers of God as security guards for SGBL branches in recent years.

Sehnaoui, an ultra-conservative Catholic who allegedly yearns for the time of the Crusades, saw in the extremists a chance to not only protect his assets from desperate depositors who had been forced to “rob banks” to retrieve their own savings, but also as a way to establish a private militia that could control Beirut’s Christian neighbourhoods.

In October 2021, LF snipers opened fire on Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters in Beirut’s Tayouneh district, according to an army intelligence assessment. The Soldiers of God were involved in this incident.

The report not only listed the names of Soldiers of God participants in the shooting but also underlined those participants’ connections to Sehnaoui and SGBL.

The aforementioned AMN Security, in collaboration with Achrafieh 2020, has recently hired the Soldiers of God.

This group is described as a “Christian extremist group that may pose a danger in the future” by internal security reports in Lebanon, despite the fact that its activities are “still limited to protecting what its regions consider from intruders.”



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