Lebanon News

Kidnapping probe links suspect to two murder cases

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Army Intelligence inadvertently solved two crimes on Friday, announcing that investigations into a man responsible for the recent kidnapping of a school boy had uncovered he was also behind the earlier murders of his two brothers. Abdel-Nasser Mikdad kidnapped his neighbor Amin Jihad al-Khansa, 14, on March 30 as he waited for a school bus near in Beirut's Ghobeiri area. Lebanese intelligence launched an probe into his abduction after his parent's received an anonymous phone call demanding a $1.5 million ransom. Three days into the probe, plainclothes police stationed at the Khansa residence overheard two men, Ibrahim al-Ahmad and Khaled Sheiko, debating whether handcuffs had injured the hands of their teenage captive. After confessing to their involvement, the men were forced lead police to Mikdad, the gang's ring-leader, who was apprehended in the Aley area, along with another culprit, Ali Ahmad.

Evidence that Mikdad killed his brothers emerged after Khansa was questioned by officers about his ordeal, an Army Command statement said on Friday. After kidnapping Khansa, Abdel-Nasser told the boy, "I killed my two brothers, and I can kill you too," a well-informed security source told The Daily Star.

It emerged that Abdel-Nasser killed his brother, Mohammad Kheir Mikdad in January, over an inheritance dispute. Mohammad, who had just been released from Roumieh prison for drug offences, was found by police shot in the head in Beirut's Ouzai area in December 2008.

Middle East Airlines pilot, Ghassan Hassan Mikdad, was meanwhile killed for firing Abdel-Nasser from his managerial position at his gasoline station. Mikdad fired his brother after discovering he had been stealing from him. The 55-year-old captain was found in his Nissan four-wheel drive on February 18 with multiple gunshot wounds to the head. It remains unclear whether Abdel-Nasser was also behind a burglary at Mohammad's house two weeks before his murder. Penniless and desperate, Abdel-Nasser then hatched a plot to kidnap Khansa and blackmail his parents. Local media had initially reported the killing of the Mikdad brothers as drug-related.

Abdel-Nasser's family last week distanced themselves from their relative's role in Khansa's kidnapping. The kidnapping was especially outrageous, they said, "since both families share historic ties." If convicted of his brother's murders, Abdel-Nasser could spend the rest of his life in prison. He already faces a 3-15 year sentence for kidnapping, assault and attempted blackmail.

Meanwhile on Friday, the National News Agency reported Speaker Nabih Berri as imploring the kidnappers of a Middle East Airlines official to release him, saying he would compensate for all "moral" and material damage caused. Fifty-year-old Joseph al-Sader, who worked with the airline as an information technology expert, was abducted on his way into work on February 12, one week before his colleague's fatal shooting.

The police have not come out publicly with any further information about his kidnapping.





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