Saudi Embassy in Beirut Reportedly Receives Kidnap Threats
The Saudi Embassy in Beirut has received threats that an unknown group will kidnap 15 Saudi citizens in Lebanon, media reports published Tuesday said.
“The embassy received three phone calls in which unknown individuals calling themselves 'Mulathamoun' (Masked) threatened to abduct fifteen Saudi citizens in Lebanon,” London-based Saudi daily al-Hayat reported.
An embassy official told al-Hayat that “the embassy immediately informed the competent security authorities” and that “efforts are underway to verify whether the threat is linked to the group that had abducted Saudi citizen Ali al-Bashrawi on Friday.”
The abductors had demanded a $1.5 million ransom to release the man.
“The embassy in Beirut is also checking whether any of the Saudi citizens who might have remained in Lebanon has been kidnapped,” the embassy official added, noting that the embassy “is dealing seriously with the threats because it is not possible to downplay any threatening phone call amid these critical and delicate situations.”
Saudi charge d'affaires in Beirut Walid al-Bukhari meanwhile denied to al-Hayat the presence of any threat against the embassy's diplomats.
He categorically denied the kidnap of “any diplomat or embassy official.”
Al-Bashrawi had been kidnapped Friday in the Keserwan region.
“After dropping his wife off at their house in Adma on Thursday evening, Saudi citizen Ali Abdul Nabi al-Bashrawi parked his Saudi-plate, white BMW at the Tabarja roundabout before being kidnapped at the hands of unknown individuals from a nearby area,” LBCI television reported.
The TV network said Bashrawi, 34, “belongs to the Shiite sect and is married to a Syrian woman.”
“He called his wife on Friday, saying that the captors are demanding $1.5 million in return for goods that he had bought from them,” LBCI added.
Quoting probe sources, the TV network said the case is likely linked to drug trade.
The incident came on the same day that Saudi Arabia ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately amid skyrocketing tensions with Iran and Hizbullah and warnings to the Lebanese government.
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has issued a statement saying “the safety and security of resident and visiting Saudi citizens, as well as all Arab and foreign residents, is a priority for all Lebanese authorities.”