US embassy cable - 92DAMASCUS8839

SYRIANS RELEASE 45 LEBANESE SUNNI ISLAMIC - FUNDAMENTALISTS AS PART OF DECEMBER 1 AMNESTY

Identifier: 92DAMASCUS8839
Wikileaks: View 92DAMASCUS8839 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Damascus
Created: 1992-12-04 13:46:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PGOV PINS PTER KISL SY LE IR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 041346Z DEC 92
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4580
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS
USMISSION GENEVA
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 08839 
 
 
STATE FOR HA, NEA/ARN 
LONDON FOR JOHNSON 
PARIS FOR ROSENBLATT 
 
E.O. 12356:  N/A 
TAGS:  PHUM, PGOV, PINS, PTER, KISL, SY, LE, IR 
SUBJECT:  SYRIANS RELEASE 45 LEBANESE SUNNI ISLAMIC 
-         FUNDAMENTALISTS AS PART OF DECEMBER 1 AMNESTY 
 
REF:  DAMASCUS 8757 AND PREVIOUS 
 
1.  (U)  THE LEBANESE NEWSPAPER "AL-NAHAR" REPORTED 
DECEMBER 4 THAT 45 MEMBERS OF THE ISLAMIC UNIFICATION 
MOVEMENT (HARIKAT AL-TAWHID AL-ISLAMI), WHO WERE 
IMPRISONED IN SYRIA, WERE FREED AND RETURNED TO THEIR 
HOMES IN TRIPOLI, LEBANON, AS PART OF THE AMNESTY 
COVERING 554 POLITICAL DETAINEES WHICH WAS ANNOUNCED IN 
DAMASCUS ON DECEMBER 1.  A TAWHID SPOKESMAN CLAIMED IN 
THE SAME ARTICLE THAT THE SYRIANS ARE STILL DETAINING 
120 MEMBERS OF TAWHID.  WE NOTICE FROM FBIS REPORTING 
THAT RADIO TEHRAN REPORTED THE SAME NEWS ON DECEMBER 3. 
 
2.  (C)  COMMENT:  THE RELEASE OF THE LEBANESE TAWHID 
MEMBERS ELABORATES ON THE ASSERTION IN THE LEBANESE 
NEWSPAPER "L'ORIENT-LE JOUR" THAT MANY OF THOSE FREED 
UNDER THE DECEMBER 1 AMNESTY WERE ISLAMIC 
FUNDAMENTALISTS.  WE HAVE ASSUMED, ON THE BASIS OF PAST 
RELEASES, THAT A SIZEABLE PROPORTION OF RECENTLY 
LIBERATED PRISONERS WERE DETAINEES SUSPECTED OF HAVING 
HAD SOME SORT OF CONNECTION TO THE OUTLAWED SYRIAN 
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD.  THE "AL-NAHAR" AND IRANIAN ITEMS 
ARE THE FIRST INDICATIONS WE HAVE THAT LEBANESE 
DETAINEES ARE ALSO BENEFITING FROM THE DECEMBER 1 
AMNESTY.  THE TAWHID AL-ISLAMI FOUGHT THE SYRIAN ARMY IN 
TRIPOLI OFF AND ON UNTIL 1985, WHEN (FOLLOWING THE 
TAWHID'S KIDNAPPING OF SOVIET DIPLOMATS) THE SYRIANS 
INVESTED IN BITTER STREET FIGHTING TO NEUTRALIZE THE 
TAWHID AS A SECURITY THREAT.  THERE HAS FOR A LONG TIME 
BEEN A BIZARRE CONNECTION BETWEEN SHIA IRAN AND TAWHID 
LEADER SAID SHA'BAN WHICH, IN THE MID-1980'S, WAS AN 
IRRITANT IN SYRIAN-IRANIAN RELATIONS.  THE TAWHID WENT 
UNDERGROUND AFTER THE EVENTS OF 1985 AND MAY HAVE 
EVENTUALLY REACHED A MODUS VIVENDI WITH THE SYRIANS THAT 
PERMITS IT TO OPERATE OPENLY IN SOME FORM, THOUGH WE 
DEFER TO EMBASSY BEIRUT AND WASHINGTON ANALYSTS FOR 
DEFINITIVE WORD ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE TAWHID. 
 
ROSS 

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