BEIRUT: A man who was briefly detained by Hezbollah members at a checkpoint in Beirut’s southern suburbs said Friday his vehicle was confiscated, questioning the identity of the men who allegedly mistreated him. Speaking to a local news website, Hussein Shamas detailed the incident at the checkpoint on the airport road where he was stopped for not having his identification card.
“The Hezbollah checkpoint stopped me and asked for my ID but I told them I didn’t have it and that I had forgotten it at home,” Shamas told Lebanonfiles.com.
Although he told the members that he worked with the Higher Shiite Council’s media office, they insisted on seeing his ID, he added.
“They prevented me from going to work ... although I showed them my media ID,” he said, adding that other members gathered around him and withdrew the keys from his vehicle.
Shamas quoted one of the men as saying: “If you’re a man, take [the key]. Have your leaders come here.”
“I don’t know the person who stopped me because he refused to give me his name ... what if he was a member of a gang pretending to be a party member?” he asked, calling for an end to the so-called “private-security measures carried out by Hezbollah.
Shamas also said he passed by the same checkpoint several times on his way to work. A security source told The Daily Star that Shamas had been released a few hours later.
Hezbollah has carried out security measures in its strongholds in Beirut’s southern suburbs and south Lebanon, erecting checkpoints and inspecting vehicles following two car bombs and rocket attacks in these neighborhoods.
The party has come under attack from its rivals in the March 14 coalition, slamming the “private security” measures, saying such behavior undermines the authority of the state.
The security source said Friday morning that a shootout between members of the Shamas family and Hezbollah took place in the area where Shamas was briefly stopped.
Gunmen from the Shamas family opened fire at Hezbollah members in the southern suburb neighborhood of Mar Mikhael after the incident and Hezbollah returned fire, the source said. No one was reported injured, however.
Shamas’ brother, Qassem, told the Voice of Lebanon radio station that his brother had been kidnapped and beaten up by Hezbollah.