BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Judge hits Meqdad clan members with terror charges

Shi'ite masked gunmen from the Meqdad clan, gather at the Meqdad family's association headquarters in the southern suburbs in Beirut, August 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Khalil Hassan)

BEIRUT: Military Prosecutor Judge Sakr Sakr filed charges Monday against six members of an armed local clan and two Syrians who embarked on a spree of abductions in the country, accusing the eight of creating an armed organization with the aim of carrying out terrorist acts and kidnappings.

The six were also charged with intimidating people with weapons and threatening military personnel. The charge sheet additionally includes possession of unlicensed arms as well as explosives.

Sakr referred the accused to the first military investigative judge along with a recommendation that the latter issue arrest warrants for them.

The Meqdad clan’s “military wing” kidnapped over 20 Syrians and a Turkish man on Aug. 15 in retaliation for the abduction of kinsman Hassan Meqdad by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria. The clan freed a number of Syrians, but claimed that those still in its custody were members of the FSA.

The Army raided several locations in Beirut’s southern suburbs last week, freeing all the remaining Syrians as well as Turkish businessman Aydin Tufan Tekin.

Clan spokesperson Maher Meqdad, who was in contact with the media, was detained last week. His case is awaiting referral to the Military Tribunal. A number of other Meqdads were detained during raids by the army on two separate occasions.

The image of masked and fully armed clan members drew harsh criticism on the part of several officials and politicians, who lambasted the state for not cracking down on such a group.

However, after President Michel Sleiman asked judicial authorities to issue arrest warrants against any and all kidnappers and called on security agencies to detain them, action was swiftly taken.

 

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