The Security Challenges for Lebanon and the Surrounding Area
Major General Abbas Ibrahim
Major General Abbas Ibrahim is head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security (DGS), which Asharq al-Awsat calls “The Eyes and Ears of the Lebanese State.” He is a highly decorated officer with first-hand knowledge of the most sensitive security challenges in the Middle East.
Before his appointment as Director General of General Security in 2011, General Ibrahim held many significant positions. In 1994, he was appointed head of the counter-terrorism and espionage department at the intelligence directorate – G2. He served as Head of Counter Terrorism branch – G2 from 1998 – 2002. Before that, in 1989, he was the personal bodyguard of Arab League envoy to Lebanon Lakhdar Brahimi. He was then appointed bodyguard to late President Elias al-Hrawi and remained in that post until 1992 when he was tasked with protecting then newly appointed Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
He first enrolled in military school when he was 19 and graduated three years later with the rank of lieutenant. Throughout the 1980s, he took part in several training courses in the military, culminating in an infantry course in the United States in 1989. He also received advanced security training in the United Kingdom in 1998.
Between 2005 and 2008, Ibrahim was head of the intelligence bureau in the South, putting him on the frontlines of the unrest in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh.
Robert R. Reilly:
Major General Abbas Ibrahim is the head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security, which Al Sharq Al Awsat calls, “the eyes and ears of the Lebanese state.” He’s in Washington for a number of important meetings. I’m not going to read a longer introduction. He has held many key positions in counter-terrorism on behalf of Lebanon. He has trained at U.S. Military institutions and infantry, as well as in Great Britain. And as is required by the State of Lebanon, when senior officials speak on matters of security and intelligence, General Ibrahim will be addressing us in Arabic this evening and our friend Intifadh Qanbar will be up here translating for him. However, the General speaks fluent English and is happy to take questions and answers in English after his talk or French or the other languages…
General Abbas Ibrahim:
Robert R. Reilly:
…or Arabic. There are a number of Arabic speakers here. So feel free to do that. Also I’m happy to say we do have or will have the English version of the General’s remarks. I’ll let Entifadh have this one in case he needs it and as those arrive they’ll be able outside if you care to have one when you leave. Please join me in welcoming General Ibrahim.
Entifadh Qanbar, translating for General Abbas Ibrahim:
At the beginning I’d like to say good evening. My name is General Abbas Ibrahim. I am the General Director of the General Directorate of security in Lebanon. I wanted to talk about the security challenges in Lebanon and the neighboring countries. For three and a half decades past my work was exclusively in the work of security and intelligence. During those past decades those security challenges were increasingly becoming more difficult and more challenging. It never retreated or decreased. It always increased and became more difficult to the point that becomes more worrying and fearful. Specifically, after the attacks of September 11- the terrorist attacks of September 11. The question was in the West why do they hate us? In spite of that [there] was cheering amongst those terrorists corners or groups in our areas. This kind of celebratory reaction made us worried, specifically after ISIS took over several countries in the region. And it’s almost the only unique issue that unify us with the neighboring countries, is the issue of ISIS. It comes after it in priority. The challenge is after ISIS is gone, and the nature of the countries after ISIS or the post-ISIS era. And then also the challenge of peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state. And there is also other different challenges, depending on the differences of the Arab countries and their nature. And which have differences in terms of political structure, the cultural structure, and the nature of it. In my experience with my country, specifically in difficult and critical times. I would like to warn to deal with the worst security from a technical point of view. It has to be combined even with the economics and the cultural aspects of the society.