The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has eyed Lebanon since the jihadists captured Syrian areas and towns along the border. Lebanese Christians are forming self-defense units for an inevitable invasion as the terrorists attempt to spread their caliphate.
“We are a minority and we are under threat by the jihadists,” claimed Rifaat Nasrallah, one of the commanders for the volunteer guards in the Greek Catholic town of Ras Baalbek. “It [the defense units] wasn’t the idea of anyone in particular. The whole village felt in danger so we all agreed it was necessary.”
The International Business Times reported the Islamic State threatened to “crucify Lebanon’s Christians.” There are 2.4 million Christians in Lebanon, which is 20% of the population. One anonymous diplomat told the Times if the terrorists did crucify a Christian it would “set Lebanon alight.” Ras Baalbek is home to 15,000and is only 11.5 miles from Arsal.
There are over 3,000 Islamic State jihadists in “the mountain range between Lebanon and Syria near the Sunni town of Arsal.” The terrorists attacked Arsal in August. The Lebanese army surrounded the town of 40,000 residents and shelled the terrorists. The residents fled, but the ones left in the middle were the refugees from Syria. Arsal is also home to at least “a third of the 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon.” The refugees said no one helped them because everyone blamed the Syrians for the attack. Deputy Mayor Ahmad Flitti said it was “miserable” and all the shelters were full.
Lebanese Christians started to arm themselves in early September. It is the first time the group chose to pick up arms since the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990. The majority of these weapons come from communist militias and Hezbollah, the Associated Press notes, but Christians say they do not care if the weapons raise tensions in the country. They believe the threat is real and need to rely on self-defense.
“We all know that if they come, they will slit our throats for no reason,” said one resident.