ISF: Mastermind Behind Abduction of Estonians Arrested, Had al-Qaida links

The Internal Security Forces revealed that it detained the mastermind who plotted the kidnapping of the seven Estonians in 2011 at the behest of al-Qaida cadre in Iraq, the ISF General Directorate said on Thursday.

In a communique the Directorate said: “on the backdrop of the kidnapping of the seven Estonians in the Bekaa region on 23/03/2011, investigations led to the arrest of the mastermind, Lebanese H.H. Born in 1983 (in reference to Hussein al-Hujairi) who plotted the kidnapping on the behest of al-Qaida cadre in Iraq.”

A special unit from the ISF Intelligence Branch arrested al-Hujairi in the outskirts of Arsal and Ras Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa valley after luring him to the area.

Al-Hujairi's record is full of law-breaking crimes as he gave orders to kidnap other foreigners after the release of the Estonians in return for a ransom, the communique added.

Efforts to bring al-Hujairi into custody were ongoing since the incident took place. And he was able to escape the efforts of the Intelligence Branch on 10/09/2011 where he was spotted in Arsal and engaged in a shooting spree. Hujairi was able to flee into the Syrian territories with some wounds.

He is also a suspect in the killing of Sergeant Elias Nasrallah whose patrol came under fire by armed men at the Jlala bridge-Chtaura in the Western Bekaa in September the same year, the statement said.

Information have also revealed that he is involved in the kidnapping of three BBC journalists and transferring them to Syria where they were later released.

The detained is also wanted for the murder of Information Branch Sgt. Maj. Rashed Sabri, reports say.

The seven Estonians were freed in July 2011, almost four months after being abducted by armed men as they entered the country on a bicycle tour from neighboring Syria.

Their release took place amid unclear circumstances.

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