BEIRUT: The Future bloc said Tuesday Hezbollah should help secure the release of the kidnapped Turks in Lebanon, slamming the party for its inaction toward the abduction.
“The abduction took place in a Hezbollah-stronghold and in front of state agencies and perhaps Hezbollah knows the location where the hostages are being kept and who kidnapped them, therefore, it should help release the two hostages,” the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting.
The bloc also condemned the kidnapping of two Turkish Airlines pilots who were taken on their way to their hotel, less than a kilometer away from the Rafik Hariri International Airport Friday.
A group calling itself Zuwwar al-Imam Ali al-Reda claimed responsibility for the abduction, demanding in exchange the release of nine Lebanese Shiites who were kidnapped in Syria over a year ago.
Authorities are looking for Ali Jamil Saleh, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the abduction, a judicial source said Monday. Saleh is the son of one of the nine Lebanese hostages held captive in Syria. Another member of the Saleh family, Mohammad Saleh, was arrested Sunday in connection with the case.
In the statement read by MP Kazem al-Kheir, the bloc said Friday’s abduction “brings back to memory the nightmarish time of ominous abductions organized by terrorist factions, who revolved around Hezbollah’s orbit, against citizens and foreigners in the 1980s,” referring to militant Islamic groups who carried out a series of kidnappings during the Civil War and who were allegedly linked to Hezbollah.
“The bloc fears that the decision to return to kidnapping [as a pressure tactic] has been taken [by some groups] with justifications which are rejected, including the retaliation to the kidnapping of some Lebanese in Azaz in Syria 15 months ago,” the statement said.
Families of the Lebanese hostages held in Syria argued that Turkey, given its influence over the Syrian opposition, can help negotiate for the release of their loved ones.
The Future bloc renewed its condemnation of the abduction and called for the release of the abducted, describing the retaliatory kidnapping as a “blatant violation of Lebanon's sovereignty as well as its political and security institutions.”
“The bloc considers the decision to carry out such abductions and the cover provided for it as a shift toward a new phase encouraged by Hezbollah's silence and inaction,” it said.
“[This] indicates that the party is continuing with the policy of drowning the country in a cycle of extortion and intimidation subjugating political and security related decisions and the Cabinet formation process to pressure from terrorists, legitimizing all kinds of evil against Lebanon and the Lebanese,” the bloc added.
The statement also noted that such “crimes” harms the Lebanese economy which is already reeling under difficult circumstances, blaming Hezbollah for the spate of kidnappings in the country.
“At the beginning of this summer, groups under the patronage and cover of Hezbollah seeking to increase tensions and generalize the phenomena of kidnapping for a ransom, the recent example being the abduction of the Turks, in order to intimidate all of Lebanon and drive an economic crisis,” the statement said.