McRINO hardest hit.
(TIME) — When one of Lebanon’s most wanted terrorists kills himself while planting a bomb it is cause for at least some sort of grim celebration. But when the chief bomb-maker of the country’s most notorious terror group self detonates while helping rebels fight in Syria, it is cause for concern.
TIME has learned that Abdel Ghani Jawhar, one of the leaders of the Sunni fundamentalist terror group Fatah al-Islam, died in the Syrian city of Qsair on Friday night. The founding cleric of Fatah al Islam, Sheikh Osama al Shihabi, confirmed Jawhar’s death to TIME with a quote from the Koran: “‘We are for God and to him we return.’ We as Mujahideen are used to being killed and if God wants to give those killed dignity he gives them martyrdom. This is the path of righteousness.”
This is not the first time that Jawhar is thought to have been killed; several previous death announcements have been retracted over the years. News of his death has been relayed by multiple—and unrelated—sources in both Syria and Lebanon. According to a fellow fighter, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Ali, Jawhar had been preparing an explosive device to be used against the Syrian army, which had been attempting to enter the rebel-dominated town not far from Homs. As Abu Ali narrated the tale over Skype, the sound of bombs and explosions could be heard in the background. Jawhar’s bomb went off prematurely, says Abu Ali. “He was killed directly. We wanted to send his body back to Lebanon but we couldn’t because it was torn into pieces.” Instead Jawhar’s fellow fighters were forced to bury what was left of him in a neighboring garden because it was impossible to reach the graveyard during heavy fighting.
According to Abu Ali and another fellow fighter, Jawhar arrived in Qsair two weeks ago with a group of 30 Lebanese fighters. While many were members of Fatah al-Islam, they were not traveling under the terror group’s banner. Instead they called themselves mujahideen, holy warriors seeking to help fellow Muslims under attack by the Syrian regime. Jawhar, an explosives expert and a charismatic commander, sought to train fellow fighters how make bombs. In the short time he had been in Qsair, says Abu Ali, he was able to set up dozens of improvised explosive devices destined for members of the Syrian security forces. “His aim was to make a tour in all the districts of Syria to teach the fighters on how to fight a guerrilla war.”