Report: Al-Meqdad Clan to Stage Open-ended Strike over Arrest of Members

Al-Meqdad clan are set to stage a “peaceful” open-ended strike to protest the arrest of several members of the family over a kidnapping spree across the country, An Nahar newspaper reported on Thursday.

The daily reported that the clan members received a text message on their cell phone calling for an “open-ended sit-in as their (arrested) family members are not terrorists.”

The sit-in will be held in Beirut's southern suburbs and the town of Maqneh in Baalbek that coincides with the return of President Michel Suleiman, who is heading the Arab delegation to the South American-Arab countries summit in Peru, to Lebanon next week.

In September, the army arrested several al-Meqdad family members, including the clan's spokesman Maher, during raids on Beirut's southern suburbs and other areas.

The raids came after the clan went on an abduction spree of Syrians and Turkish nationals to avenge the kidnapping of family member Hassan al-Meqdad in Damascus in August.

An Nahar said that the clan received indirect guarantees after handing over Turkish businessman Tekin Tufan to General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim that its spokesman Maher won't be detained.

Sources close to the clan told the daily that the army warned that it will not tolerate any road closure “even if those who staged the endeavor are women and children.”

Sources wondered about the “ambiguous” stance by Hizbullah, pointing out that it is divided over the matter as some say that the party should not provide some members of the clan with political cover, while others reject making the clan pay the “price” of the political differences.

The detained family members are charged with forming an armed group to carry out terrorist activities, kidnapping and terrorizing people with the force of arms, responding violently to security forces and the ownership of unlicensed weapons and explosives.

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