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Rifi commends ISF over arrest of 'Free Sunni' tweeter

This file photo shows policemen from the Internal Security Forces' Information Branch on a street patrol in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Saturday commended the Internal Security Forces for uncovering the identity of and arresting the man behind a controversial Twitter account, which he said promoted sectarian strife.

“Once again, the Internal Security Forces and its Information Branch proved that they were up to the task of protecting Lebanon from strife and dangers after it investigated the case of the Free Sunni Brigades Twitter account and arrested the operator,” Rifi, former head of the ISF, said in a statement.

“This accomplishment ... should be added to the honorable record of the ISF," which he said foiled several assassination attempts including the Samaha-Mamlouk plot.

“This accomplishment prevented sectarian strife, which was being promoted by the account through statements that serve a blow to national unity and incite Muslim-Christian tensions.”

On Thursday, the ISF Information Branch detained the operator of the Twitter account, a 19-year-old Lebanese national identified as Hussein al-Hussein.

Security forces began tracking down the person behind the account when it was used to issue threats against Christians and Shiites in Lebanon. The account had also issued fiery statements against Hezbollah, claiming at times suicide car bombings in Shiite-dominant areas.

Hussein's father said in remarks published Saturday his son was arrested when the family was stopped at an Army checkpoint in Riyaq.

Speaking to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Shaman al-Hussein said that he informed Hezbollah of his son's arrest given that the family was close to the party. He also said he was surprised to hear the reason behind his son's arrest.

Hussein’s mother said her son most likely confessed under duress. "We are a poor family. My son doesn't even have his own laptop and he did not finish his high school."

Sources in Hezbollah denied that Hussein was a member of the party, according to LBCI.

 

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