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Kidnapped Saudi citizen released: Lebanese army

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (File/AFP)
Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (File/AFP)
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30 May 2023 10:05:11 GMT9
30 May 2023 10:05:11 GMT9
  • “With an iron fist, we work to liberate any citizen who is exposed to any harm on Lebanese soil,” Mawlawi tweeted

Najia Houssari

BEIRUT: Lebanese Army Intelligence has freed a Saudi national who was abducted on Saturday night in Beirut and arrested the suspects involved in the incident.

“A patrol of the Intelligence Directorate managed to free the kidnapped Saudi Mashari Al-Mutairi after a qualitative operation on the Lebanese border, and a number of those involved in the kidnapping were also arrested,” the Lebanese Army said in a statement on Tuesday.

The kidnapped Saudi, who is an administrative employee in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Beirut office, is now in the custody of the Army Intelligence Office in Hermel. 

Security information stated that the kidnapping was carried out on Saturday night by seven people in Beirut who used two stolen cars. The Lebanese army identified four of them and raided their homes.

The army said three of the seven kidnappers were wearing military uniforms although they were not soldiers. 

So far, the army has managed to arrest 12 people during raids it carried out in Al-Sharawneh neighborhood in Baalbek and in Chtaura. 

Some of the raids aimed to put pressure on the kidnappers to release Al-Mutairi. 

The kidnappers were planning to transfer the victim through an area near the border into Syria territories. 

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati affirmed “the insistence on controlling the security situation and not allowing any threat to the security of the Lebanese and nationals residing in Lebanon.”

Commenting on the incident, he said: “The kidnapping of a Saudi citizen is condemned by all standards, and we congratulate the army for the great effort it made to release him and arrest those involved in the kidnapping. We are keen on the return of all Arab brothers to Lebanon and preventing any threat to them, in addition to preventing the use of Lebanese territory is a springboard for any action that threatens the security and safety of Arab countries.”

The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon said on Monday that it was “contacting authorities in Beirut to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of a Saudi citizen.”

The embassy confirmed in a statement that it had received “a notification from the family of a Saudi citizen about losing contact with him.”

Instructions have been issued to employees of the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon not to travel into the city’s streets.

The statement read: “The Saudi citizen, Mashari M., who is an employee of Saudi Airlines in Beirut and lives in the Aramoun area in Mount Lebanon, was kidnapped at around 3 a.m. on Saturday in Beirut. The kidnappers contacted his family from the southern suburbs of Beirut and demanded a financial ransom.”

A $400,000 ransom has been demanded for the return of the citizen in audio messages from the kidnappers.

Security officials said the Saudia employee was in the administrative department at the airline company, and it is believed that four people in military uniforms kidnapped him.

The Lebanese security services have monitored three locations in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hazmieh and Dahr Al-Baidar, while his car was later found in the Bekaa region.

Officials said: “The car in which the kidnapped Saudi was forced to move into was in the Bashoura area near central Beirut.”

It is believed that the victim was last seen in the Biel area of central Beirut, and was spotted on the road traveling toward Beirut Airport, which leads to the Aramoun area.

“The incident is being closely monitored,” a military source told Arab News.

Al-Arabiya TV reported that the Lebanese security services had initial leads about the people who had carried out the kidnapping.

Minister of the Interior Bassam Mawlawi said he had been monitoring the incident with internal security forces.

Mawlawi said he was also in contact with Waleed Bukhari, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Lebanon, following the incident.

Mawlawi tweeted: “With an iron fist, we work to liberate any citizen who is exposed to any harm on Lebanese soil.

“What happened affects Lebanon’s relationship with its brothers, and the perpetrators will be punished harshly.”

A political observer described the kidnapping of the Saudi as “a very dangerous, reprehensible and unacceptable matter with suspicious aims.”

Bukhari met Gen. Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, on Monday, according to reports.

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