BEIRUT: Military Tribunal Judge Imad al-Zein issued arrest warrants Wednesday for several detained members of an armed local clan who embarked on a spree of abductions in the country.
Investigations kicked off Wednesday into the case of those members of the Meqdad clan who are accused of creating an armed organization with the aim of carrying out terrorist acts and kidnappings. Other charges include intimidating people with weapons, threatening military personnel, and possession of unlicensed arms and explosives.
Zein interrogated the six suspects, after which he issued arrest warrants for five of them. The sixth man will remain in custody for further interrogation.
The six were arrested when the army carried out raids in several neighborhoods of Beirut's southern suburbs.
Interrogation of the remaining clan member as well as two Syrian nationals also detained during the raids will resume Thursday.
The Meqdad clan’s “military wing” kidnapped over 20 Syrians and Turkish businessman Aydin Tufan Tekin on Aug. 15 in retaliation for the abduction of kinsman Hassan Meqdad by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria. The clan subsequently freed a number of the 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, convincing the Meqdad clan to release Tekin, and arresting six clan members along with two Syrian alleged accomplices.
Clan spokesperson Maher Meqdad was detained last week. His case is awaiting referral to the Military Tribunal.
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.