Lebanon News

Families denounce detention of ISIS suspects

File - A general view of Akkar, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Antoine Amrieh)

BEIRUT: The families of three young men detained by the Lebanese authorities on charges of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in Lebanon and of belonging to an Al Qaeda-linked militant group dismissed accusations against their relatives Tuesday.

“We are the people of clans and we never hated anyone,” read a statement by the families from the northern Akkar border region of Wadi Khaled. “We believe in coexistence under the rule of the law, and our sons never knew and will never know terrorism.”

Investigative Military Judge Fadi Sawan Monday charged Abdel-Majid Hmeidan, Mohammad Ali and Alaa al-Mohammad on charges of belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and of planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon. All three hail from the Wadi Khaled area.

The judge issued the charges, along with formal arrest warrants, after the suspects were detained in the eastern town of Labweh last week and interrogated.

Sawan also issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Satem, an ISIS commander thought to be in the Syrian town of Yabroud, who reportedly trained the three suspects there to carry out attacks in Lebanon.

The families admitted their sons were in Syria but denied they were engaged in any military activities.

“Our sons were lured into going to Syria but they went to a border area in which there were no battles and they did not get blood on their hands,” the statement said.

The families said that the three men only spent five days in Syria and that they were on their way home “after they realized that this is not their path or way of thinking” when they were detained.

“They left their houses in order to make their parents realize their value,” the statement said.

The families said they informed the security authorities of their sons’ absence the moment they left home. They also slammed the media for depicting their sons “as first-rank terrorists.”

The families appealed to the state to place the young men in a rehabilitation facility instead of prison.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 19, 2014, on page 4.




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