Syria violence spilling over into other nations
(CBS/AP) Clashes between police and anti-Syria protesters in Lebanon this weekend, and in a reported foiled terrorist plot to attack public places and government facilities in Jordan indicate that the violence in Syria's year-long civil war is spilling over into neighboring countries.
Supporters of Gen. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, head of Lebanese intelligence who was killed with his bodyguard in a car bombing on Friday, say the Syrian government was responsible. [Al-Hassan was a Sunni who challenged Syria and its powerful Lebanese ally, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.]
Following Hassan's funeral in Beirut Sunday, hundreds of anti-Assad protesters clashed with police and tried to storm government buildings, venting their rage at leaders they consider puppets of the Syrian regime. They were pushed back by troops who opened fire in the air and lobbed volleys of tear gas.
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On Monday soldiers backed by armored personal carriers with heavy machine guns took up position on major thoroughfares in Beirut and dismantled roadblocks. At times, troops exchanged gunfire with Sunni gunmen.
Correspondent Holly Williams, reporting from Lebanon, said Monday that the country is extremely vulnerable to conflict because there are such deep divisions along religious lines. "Some Lebanese, most of them Shia Muslim, support the Syrian government; some Lebanese, most of them Sunni Muslims, support the Syrian opposition," Williams said.
"If there is more violence that's linked to Syria, that fuels fears that Lebanon could descend once again into violence."
Officials in Jordan announced the arrests of 11 militants Sunday allegedly planning attacks on shopping malls and Western diplomatic missions, including, according to a Washington Post report, the U.S. Embassy.
What is interesting, says CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, is that nations that are supporting Syrian opposition groups are finding themselves to be targets of al Qaeda-inspired militants.
On "CBS This Morning," Miller - a former Assistant Director of National Intelligence - said that violence in Syria "is spilling over in every direction." (To view his interview click on the video player above.)
"Jordan is a country that has largely supported the rebels in Syria - sent them weapons and money and other support," Miller said. "And here those weapons are coming back to al Qaeda-inspired groups, although not directly connected, to launch attacks on hotels, cafes, public places as a distraction to draw the police response, where they then launch secondary attacks on their real targets: the general intelligence directorate, government buildings, the U.S. Embassy and so on."
"Does this suggest that there is there a rise in the role of al Qaeda-inspired groups in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan?" asked Charlie Rose.
"It suggests that if al Qaeda command and control is dead, which is a little too early to say, al Qaeda-ism is rampant."
(To watch Clarissa Ward's "60 Minutes" report on rebel fighters in Syria click on the video player above.)
"Al Qaeda is now just an idea. And what we're seeing - and this relates to Benghazi, too - is, in each country a group called Ansar al Sharia (not connected to each other or to al Qaeda, but they're reading from the al Qaeda narrative) is popping up, that are raising money and collecting weapons and launching attacks."
Miller said a recent report featuring a militant in Benghazi - thought to be behind the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate - is demonstrative of the fact that "the government in Tripoli doesn't have control over Benghazi. Benghazi is being run by a bunch of militias for now. The government hopes to get control of it some day, but it ain't there yet."
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