(Syrians attend a mass funeral for people whom anti-government protesters said were killed by Syrian security forces in earlier protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Duma near Damascus March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout)

Sheikh Abu Abdullah Zahed, a Lebanese Muslim cleric with influence amongst radical youth, is part of a growing effort to push the uprising in Syria towards militant Islam.

Hardline Sunni Muslims in Lebanon are maneuvering for influence over Syrians across the border who have spent the last year fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

“At first Syrians called on the West and NATO. Now they are calling on God,” said Zahed, sitting in his library, where black Islamic flags hang on the walls.

As opposition groups abroad squabble over politics and Assad’s army pounds rebellious cities, Muslim hardliners want to make religion the unifying basis of the revolt.