Hujeiri Warns of 'Last Chance' by Nusra Front for Release of Arsal Hostages

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Arsal prominent figure Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, who is also known as Abu Taqiyeh, denied on Sunday that he was tasked by the Lebanese state to negotiation the release of the abducted servicemen, warning of a “last chance” given by the jihadists to the government.

“The (al-Qaida-linked) Nusra Front has granted the government a last chance to engage in serious negotiations to release” the captive soldiers and policemen, Hujeiri told the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

The Sheikh revealed that he coordinated his negotiations with the group with Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, who has been soothing the relatives of the abducted soldiers and policemen, al-Mustaqbal movement MP Jamal al-Jarrah and others.

“I have exerted efforts to prevent the dramatic deterioration in the case” Hujeiri said, in remarks concerning the Nusra Front's decision to retract its warning to execute captive soldier Ali al-Bazzal.

“The group was determined to execute other captives after murdering Bazzal,” the Sheikh told the daily.

Hujeiri stressed that the identity of those negotiation the release of the hostages is “insignificant,” saying: “It is not important if I was the mediator or Qatar appointed one or if there are two or 10 negotiators.”

“The case is in the hands of two sides, the kidnappers who want their demands to be fulfilled and the government that is obliged to take firm decisions” regarding the case.

“Reports saying that I was formally tasked by the state to negotiation the abductors are false. We are only concerned with opening a new page and end negligence.”

An indictment and arrest warrant were issued in October against Hujeiri for belonging to al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

He withdrew from negotiations with Islamist gunmen after his convoy came under fire as he was escorting back the family of soldier George Khoury following their meeting.

Al-Nusra had on Thursday threatened to execute Bazzal within 24 hours if the Lebanese government did not start what it called “serious negotiations.”

It also called on the Lebanese authorities to release Jumana Hmayyed, who was arrested near the northeastern border town of Arsal in February while driving a booby-trapped car that entered Lebanon from Syria's Yabrud region.

Hujeiri told Asharq al-Awsat that the Lebanese state was handed over the names of inmates that the Nusra Front is demanding their release in exchange for the hostages.

He urged politicians to “have mercy on the families of the abducted servicemen,” describing the conditions of the captives as “difficult.”

Several soldiers and policemen were abducted from Arsal in August following clashes between the army and Islamist gunmen from Syria.

A few of them have since been released, three were executed, while the rest are still being held by the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.

The families of the captives have repeatedly expressed their anger with the cabinet for failing to resolve the case.

They blocked the Beirut's Saifi road on Friday to pressure the government to take more action but police used water cannons against the relatives of the servicemen after a scuffle.

Comments 5
Thumb EagleDawn 30 November 2014, 09:08

Incompetent government and institutions only good at intimidating the normal law abiding unarmed civilians.

Default-user-icon puppeteer (Guest) 30 November 2014, 09:20

I respect Mr. Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri

Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) 30 November 2014, 11:35

RIP Saiid Akl in 75 he said if you want peace : yajib an la yabka filistini 3ala ard loubnan
so in 2014 if nusra fith scum takfiry touch a hair of our soldiers
yajib an la yabka souri 3ala ard loubnan

Thumb the_roar 30 November 2014, 14:36

Let there be a military coup & lets see his type give final warnings.

Thumb zahle1 30 November 2014, 15:48

We need to eradicate this entire area of Nusra and ISIS.