Lebanon’s security forces arrested four members of a Beirut Daesh cell fronting as a soccer team, The Daily Star reported in July 2017.
The suspects, Syrian nationals, are accused of luring recruits under the guise of starting a new soccer team, but the team’s training sessions were peppered with indoctrination in Daesh’s violent ideology, Al-Arabiya reported.
To overcome difficulties in moving between Syria and Lebanon, members of the terror cell aimed to form Daesh sleeper cells throughout Lebanon. The cell had eventual plans to carry out terrorist operations in the country.
All detainees confessed links to Daesh and are under continued investigation, according to Lebanese forces.
Social worker Nancy Yamout, one of the founders of a Beirut-based nongovernmental organization focused on crime prevention, told The Daily Star that Daesh recruiters, or “fishers,” have been widespread in Lebanon.
“They can recruit anywhere, which makes it harder to stop them,” Yamout said. “They often target those who are unemployed and hanging out in cafes, for example, and invite them to pray.”
Yamout’s organization, called Rescue Me, is one of a handful of groups with access to the country’s prisons. Yamout and her sister, Maya, a co-founder of the group, interview people who have been arrested for attempting to join extremist groups in Lebanon.
Daesh has struck Lebanon in the past: Terrorists killed troops and took nine Soldiers hostage in 2014, then launched a bloody assault on a security post in 2015.