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Syria airs car bomb 'confessions'

Man identified as Abdul Baqi al-Hussein confesses on Syrian TV (6 November 2008)
Mr Hussein said the bomber was a Saudi man called Abou Aisha

Syrian state TV has shown what it says are confessions by 11 militants behind the car bomb attack in Damascus in September which left 17 people dead.

Among the 10 men and one woman shown was Abdul Baqi al-Hussein, described as being responsible for security for Fatah al-Islam, a Sunni Islamist group.

Fatah al-Islam fought the Lebanese army in a refugee camp in Tripoli last year.

The broadcast also showed a photo of a man said to have been the suicide bomber in the September attack.

Mr Hussein said the bomber was a Saudi man called Abu Aisha.

In the 27 September attack, a car packed with about 200kg (440lbs) of explosives blew up near a security complex on the road to the international airport to the south of the capital.

The blast was the deadliest single attack in Damascus since 1986, when a bombing blamed on Iraqi agents left 60 people dead. It was also the first car bombing since a senior Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, was assassinated in Damascus in February.

Fugitive leader

In his purported confession, Mr Hussein said he and 10 other suspects had planned to attack Syrian security offices and foreign diplomats.

Men inspect the damage on buildings at the scene of the blast in Damascus (27/09/08)
People in Damascus were deeply shocked by the rare attack

One of the other men in the broadcast said the fugitive leader of Fatah al-Islam, Sheikh Shaker al-Abssi, had made his way into Syria from Lebanon, but that he had not been heard from since July.

The woman shown among the group was identified as his daughter.

Fatah al-Islam, a Palestinian Islamist militant group based in Lebanon, came to prominence in May 2007 when it began fighting the Lebanese army from its stronghold in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp north of Tripoli.

More than 400 people, including civilians, died in clashes between the two sides before the Lebanese army took control of the camp on 2 September. Al-Abssi is believed to have escaped from the camp the day before.

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