In the tweet, Al Nusrah uses the title "Who Will Pay the Price?" and says that "Mohammad Maarouf Hammieh will be the first to pay the price."
"Everyone should know that the path of negotiations has not been closed by us, and we do not have crippling demands as they claim," Nusrah says, "However, when we heard their statements today that the negotiations may last for a month or two, we knew that the path is a dead end because of them. We were convinced of this when we saw that the army run by the Iranian party is continuing its systematic operations restricting [oppressing] Syrian refugees in the country and on the border of Arsal. So do not admonish us that we have overstepped our boundaries."
Hostage was featured in a previous video
Last month, the Al Nusrah Front posted a short video featuring nine captured members of Lebanon's security forces. The video, also titled "Who Will Pay the Price?," showed the nine hostages sitting on the ground in front of Al Nusrah's black banner. The first of the hostages to speak, the aforementioned Mohammad Maarouf Hammieh, is a recruit who signed up to fight for the Lebanese Army. In the video, he called on the people in his home village to protest until all of Hezbollah's fighters are removed from Syria. If Hezbollah does not exit the Syrian war, he was made to say by Al Nusrah, all of the hostages will be killed.
In the new tweet, Al Nusrah mentions Hezbollah's role in Syria by referring to the group as the "Iranian party." The hostages that Al Nusrah holds were captured after five days of heavy fighting last month in the Lebanese border town of Arsal.
Fighting in Arsal
In early August, fighting broke out between the Lebanese Army and jihadist forces after the former detained an Al Nusrah commander. In retaliation, the Al Nusrah Front kidnapped 15 Lebanese Army soldiers and three Internal Service Forces troops during the fighting. Some of the hostages have since been released by Al Nusrah.
The commander that started the fighting in Arsal, Imad Jomaa, was reportedly tasked with establishing an "Islamic Emirate" in Lebanon, with a spokesman from the Al Qaeda linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades as its emir. Jomaa, a former Nusrah commander, switched sides to the Islamic State shortly before the Arsal clashes began.
The most interesting aspect of the fighting in Arsal is that Al Nusrah was assisted by the Islamic State in a rare, uneasy alliance. It is also important to note that Al Nusrah has a much larger presence in Qalamoun than the Islamic State. Al Nusrah is also believed to have a branch inside Lebanon. Usamah Amin al Shihabi, the head of Al Nusrah's Lebanese branch, was designated as a global terrorist by the US State Department in December 2013.
Moreover, Al Nusrah is believed to have close ties to the Lebanese groups Fatah al Islam and the aforementioned Abdullah Azzam Brigades. The Islamic State has also been building a presence in Lebanon, especially within Syrian refugee camps. Camps in the Bekaa Valley are a prime location for recruiting by both Al Nusrah and the Islamic State. The latter group, while it does not have the operational presence in the area like Al Nusrah, has certainly been active in trying to establish a strong presence in Lebanon. The United States has recognized the Islamic State's presence in Lebanon in a travel warning issued in January of this year. The State Department said:
"Extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including some such as Hizballah, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), and al-Nusrah Front (ANF), that the U.S. Government has designated as terrorist organizations. ISIL and ANF have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon, and these groups are active in north Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and in border areas with Syria."
As the State Department notes, both Al Nusrah and the Islamic State have perpetrated terrorist attacks in Lebanon; however, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades have too. In February, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades conducted an attack on an Iranian cultural center in Beirut. Before that, the Brigades attacked the Iranian embassy in Beirut, demanding that Hezbollah leave Syria. This demand has became a common justification for attacks in Lebanon.
Sporadic fighting continues near Arsal, with a roadside bomb killing two Lebanese soldiers today. According to Reuters, the attack happened inside Lebanon, not far from Arsal. The attack targeted a Lebanese military personnel carrier.
Al Nusrah's threat to kill a captive Lebanese soldier is a departure from the group's recent handling of hostages in Syria. Last week, Al Nusrah released more than 40 UN peacekeepers who were held captive after the group took over much of the Syrian side of Quneitra province, which borders the Israeli-held Golan Heights. And in late August, Al Nusrah released an American hostage, Peter Theo Curtis, after Qatar negotiated for his release (it is also thought Qatar played a role in the release of the UN hostages and paid a ransom).
The Islamic State has beheaded at least two captive Lebanese soldiers that they were holding.
It is thought that at least 22 Lebanese military hostages are still being held by Al Nusrah and the Islamic State inside Qalamoun.
On Friday, the Nusrah Front followed through with their threat andkilled Hammieh. This marks the first time that Nusrah has killed a Lebanese hostage and an escalation in regards to how they have been treating prisoners recently.
The Daily Star Lebanon is reporting that a Nusrah affiliated twitter page said this of Hammieh's killing:
“Mohammad Hammieh is the first victim of the intransigence of the Lebanese Army, which has become a puppet [of Hezbollah]”.