BEIRUT: Militant Sheikh Omar Bakri Fustoq, wanted by authorities for his alleged role in north Lebanon clashes, was arrested Sunday in Aley, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk announced.
“At dawn today we arrested Omar Bakri Fustoq in the house he was hiding in,” the minister said during a ceremony in Beirut.
“He is a man who has contributed to the logic of terrorism. I am certain some people will say that he is one of us but we are civil and wise people,” he added.
The sheikh had fled his home in the northern city of Tripoli before the Lebanese Army and security forces launched a security plan to restore law and order to the city, which was plagued by several rounds of clashes linked to the crisis in Syria.
Fustoq’s residence was one of the first houses the military raided in search of wanted suspects.
Fustoq is thought to be close to Al-Qaeda, and recently called for the group’s black flag to be flown over the Baabda presidential palace.
Born in Syria, Fustoq lived in Britain for many years, where he helped found the Hizb ut-Tahrir party. Upon arrival in Lebanon in 2005 he was informed by the British government that he could not return.
The Tripoli-based preacher has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, urging the radical Syrian rebel group to “reactivate its cells” in Lebanon.
An-Nahar reported that security forces had been monitoring Fustoq's relatives and friends after they received information indicating that the preacher was still in Lebanon.
The landlord of the building where Fustoq was hiding said a man by the name of Khodr Ahmad Hussein rented the apartment.
"Khodr presented me with his passport and documents and told me he wanted to rent the apartment for three months," the landlord told Al-Jadeed television.
Hussein is the uncle of Fustoq’s wife and sought to rent the apartment for her.