Editor’s Note — CNN reached out to Rami Makhlouf, Lebanon’s interior minister, who issued the following statement on Sunday.
Lebanon’s interior minister has ordered an investigation after a Lebanese newspaper reported that a Palestinian company controlled by Lebanon’s influential Shiite Muslim family Hajj Amin Al-Husseini are suspected of shipping 2,000 mortar shells to the armed group ISIS.
The 30-year-old director of the Husseini firm and his brother have disappeared after the allegations surfaced, said the newspaper, the An-Nahar.
In 2016, the United Nations Security Council threatened sanctions against private companies it said were selling arms or ammunition to any entity that works with the armed group Hamas. The UN sanctions committee is considering penalties against companies in the seven countries of the Horn of Africa (Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti).
The militant group Hamas is said to be affiliated with the Islamic State group, or ISIS.
Mark Doyle, the executive vice president of Geo Merchants, a London-based arms broker, told CNN Sunday that the Lebanese firm Bholoui and Sons Trade Ltd., owned by the UN-accredited UNRWA refugee agency, was sending mortar shells from the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
Asked how his company would be involved, Doyle said via email, “The companies in this case are engaged in shipping, not selling.”
Egypt said it destroyed a shipment of 1,500 mortar shells landing in Gaza on Saturday. It’s not clear if the shipments originated from the company in Lebanon, but Egyptian authorities did not say if they were aware of the shipments.
The Lebanese government launched its own investigation after receiving an official complaint from the Defense Ministry, a Lebanese government spokesman said.
“We are examining the case and will cooperate with our (international) partners. The Lebanese government is not involved in this matter,” spokesman Saad Ljibbe told CNN.
Damascus pockets Syria’s Islamic State threat
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that “carries particular responsibility because Hezbollah and Syria don’t want a solution in Syria. And this allows ISIS and Al Qaeda to gain strength,” according to Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper.
Hezbollah is a Shiite militia that is closely allied with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime. It supports ISIS and Al Qaeda and also supports the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The head of research at the Nairobi-based Jamia Tahlia University Institute for Research on Conflict Studies, Alex Thurston, told CNN’s Deborah Feyerick the disclosures would pose an obstacle to peace efforts.