One of Lebanon’s most wanted men, an Islamist militant, was killed in Syria fighting alongside rebels, residents of his hometown in north Lebanon told AFP on Thursday.
“We are sure Abdel Ghani Jawhar was killed in Syria,” Bibnin resident Abu Mohammed, 50, said. “Everyone here is sure about it, even those closest to him.”
Local news reports said Jawhar died recently along with another wanted militant, Walid Bustani, in clashes with the Syrian army.
Jawhar, a leader of Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda-inspired group, was wanted by Lebanese authorities for the 2007 killing of 14 Lebanese soldiers in the northern port city of Tripoli.
In September 2007, Jawhar fled the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, near Tripoli, where he had fought alongside Fatah al-Islam against the Lebanese army.
The three-month battle killed 400 people, among them 168 soldiers.
He was also accused of attempting to assassinate Lebanese army chief Jean Kahwaji and of killing the owner of an alcohol store.
Jawhar’s 80-year-old father Ali told AFP he knew nothing of his son’s whereabouts since 2006.
“I have nothing to do with him,” he said. “We will not organize any funeral, nor will we bury him in the village, because he killed people in Nahr al-Bared.”
Jawhar’s cousin Bassam, a soldier, was among those killed in Nahr el-Bared.
Security services believe Jawhar had been hiding in Ain al-Helweh camp of south Lebanon. It is the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps and used by fugitives as a hiding place.
Jawhar was believed to have married a native of Homs, central Syria, while in Ain el-Helweh. Upon news of his death, “his wife returned to Bibnin,” said Abu Mohammed.
Most Bibnin residents sympathize with the anti-regime revolt in Syria that broke out in March 2011. However, many said they were unmoved by Jawhar’s death because of his role in the killing of Lebanese soldiers.