BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Judge releases three suspects in Shoueifat bombing

A forklift places concrete blocks in heightened security measures in Beirut's southern suburbs, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr released Thursday three suspects detained for alleged involvement in this week’s suicide bombing in Shoueifat, south of Beirut. The three suspects in question are Issa Ghosn, the taxi driver who allegedly dropped the suicide bomber off moments before Monday’s attack in Shoueifat, and two individuals who were passengers in Ghosn’s cab at the time.

Saqr ordered their release for lack of evidence connecting the three to the suicide bomber, but the judge freed them on bail for charges of arms possession.

Investigators summoned Ghosn after viewing CCTV footage that showed the cab dropping the suicide bomber off minutes before he boarded a bus and detonated his explosives belt.

Monday’s attack wounded two people including the bus driver.

According to a judicial source, Ghosn told investigators he had intended to approach authorities and said the suicide bomber had left a plastic bag containing an AK-47 and ammunition in his cab.

Although Ghosn said the weapon belonged to the suicide bomber, investigators still have suspicions about the taxi driver, the source said.

Ghosn said he picked up the bomber from Khaldeh, south of Beirut. During the trip, the bomber asked about directions to a factory in Bir Hasan that refills butane bottles.

The driver told investigators that he dropped the man off in Shoueifat after spotting an AK-47 assault rifle hidden in his vest.

Also Thursday, a man wounded in the Feb. 1 suicide car bombing in the northeastern city of Hermel died, raising the death toll from the attack to four.

The new fatality was identified as Mohammad Jawhari. He died of his wounds at Jeitawi hospital.

The suicide bomber was also killed in the attack at a gas station in the Hermel neighborhood of Zahraa, which wounded 23 others.

Separately, Lebanese police will erect random checkpoints in the next few days to crack down on stolen vehicles that could be used in terrorist attacks, a security source told The Daily Star.

The Internal Security Forces will man checkpoints in several Beirut neighborhoods to check on the validity of drivers’ documents and search vehicles, particularly those security forces suspect of being stolen, the source added.

Many vehicles used in recent car bombings were stolen from their original owners and sold to groups that later planned and executed the attacks. Security agencies have a list of stolen vehicles they suspect could be used in future attacks and will erect checkpoints accordingly.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 07, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr released Thursday three suspects detained for alleged involvement in this week's suicide bombing in Shoueifat, south of Beirut. The three suspects in question are Issa Ghosn, the taxi driver who allegedly dropped the suicide bomber off moments before Monday's attack in Shoueifat, and two individuals who were passengers in Ghosn's cab at the time.

Monday's attack wounded two people including the bus driver.

Although Ghosn said the weapon belonged to the suicide bomber, investigators still have suspicions about the taxi driver, the source said.

The suicide bomber was also killed in the attack at a gas station in the Hermel neighborhood of Zahraa, which wounded 23 others.


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