General Security Arrests Fugitive Cleric al-Asir Trying to Flee to Nigeria

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
  • W460
  • W460

Lebanese authorities on Saturday arrested a fugitive Islamic cleric wanted for his role in deadly clashes with the army as he tried to flee the country.

Ahmed al-Asir was apprehended at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport while trying to travel to Nigeria via Cairo with a fake Palestinian passport, General Security announced.

But his Nigerian visa was not fake, it said in a statement.

A source said he had changed his appearance by doing a number of plastic surgeries.

Voice of Lebanon Radio (100.5) said that the fugitive was arrested after boarding the plane. Two other individuals were accompanying him and were carrying forged passports under the names Rami Abdul Rahman Taleb and Khaled Sidani.

The vehicle that transported al-Asir to the airport was a white Mercedes and its driver was arrested, the state-run National News Agency said.

Al-Asir, a firebrand anti-Hizbullah cleric, has been on the run since June 2013 after his armed supporters clashed with the Lebanese army in the southern port city of Sidon. The fighting killed 18 Lebanese soldiers and deepened sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims who support opposing sides in neighboring Syria's civil war.

The army seized his headquarters after 48 hours of clashes, but Asir was able to escape with several of his followers.

He continued to issue audio statements while on the run, and various rumors circulated as to where in Lebanon he was hiding.

In 2014, a military judge recommended prosecutors seek death sentences for Asir and 53 others, including singer-turned-fundamentalist Fadel Shaker.

He and his associates were accused of "having formed armed groups that attacked an institution of the state, the army, killed officers and soldiers, took explosive materials and light and heavy weapons and used them against the army."

Asir was a virtual political unknown until the outbreak of Syria's civil war.

He began making headlines after the conflict erupted by criticizing Lebanon's Hizbullah movement and its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Although he was born to a Shiite Muslim mother, his discourse was highly sectarian and he often accused Lebanon's army of failing to protect Sunnis and being beholden to Hizbullah.

He encouraged his supporters to join Syria's mainly Sunni rebels and to rise up against Hizbullah.

Asir also hit headlines with media stunts, including by taking a group of his followers to the trendy winter ski resort of Faraya in early 2013.

The clashes between his supporters and the army erupted on June 24, 2013, after they opened fire on a military checkpoint.

The fighting, which centered on the Abra district in the eastern outskirts of Sidon, spread quickly, wounding dozens of civilians and paralyzing much of the coastal city.

When the fighting was over, a variety of weapons including rocket launchers were found in Asir's headquarters complex, which included a mosque, several office buildings and apartment blocks.

The families of the soldiers killed in the Abra clashes issued a statement on Saturday calling for the arrest of Shaker and "anyone who has assaulted the military and security institutions."

Their appeal came as al-Asir's supporters blocked a main road in Sidon to protest his arrest. But security forces later reopened it.

Comments 48
Missing humble 15 August 2015, 13:31

Coward, running away...he learned from Caporal.

Missing 15 August 2015, 19:56

Good riddance. I hope one day Nassy suffer the same fate.

Thumb Mystic 15 August 2015, 20:22

About time they catched Assir, good to see you again FT.

Thumb _mowaten_ 15 August 2015, 22:32

great news, made my day :)

Thumb kanaandian 15 August 2015, 13:34

finally, lebanon now has some tangible goods (well i consider him garbage) to trade the soldiers held by the islamic state.

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 13:34

Finaly some good news...

Missing humble 15 August 2015, 13:40

Very interesting to learn how did they recognize him?

Default-user-icon willypete222 (Guest) 15 August 2015, 15:00

by the smell

Missing 15 August 2015, 19:58

The glasses and pattern (face) recognition software. It also could be HUMINT.

Missing 15 August 2015, 20:15

humble, google openCV. Also google: image pattern recognition. Also face recognition. In effect, they have combination of high resolution video and much higher resolution cameras taking snapshots every few second and running face recognition software against a bank of images. There are several methods and algorithms that are available whether commercially or in the public domain to do so and the better products use a combination of algorithm to arrive at a higher hit ratio. Now these are not flawless and are prone to errors but they do simplify the task of security forces.

Missing 15 August 2015, 20:18

And it is why the man is an idiot trying to use an airport to escape. I guess his options were running out. Also, it could be the work human intelligence (people on the ground). Why allow him to get all the way to the airport. It is to ensure that he does not have weapons or explosives making it more likely to arrest him rather than kill him.

Thumb liberty 16 August 2015, 04:19

sounds like an inside job most probably by the palestinians who supplied him with the passport.

Default-user-icon illegitimate & illiterate.southern (Guest) 15 August 2015, 14:01

well said southern

Thumb EagleDawn 15 August 2015, 14:31

southern are you still glad the war in Yemen is moving in the right direction?

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 14:33

No more choukran qatar?...
But u are probably right, as for iran it wants a secular democratic progresist lebanon for a change...
Take it easy man, go have some chupachups, it is a good day for lebanon that this fanatic is caught, 3a 2bell all the others...

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 14:43

U see we can agree sometimes :)

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 14:47

Well here u are back....
It is sad not to see that this extremist is like the ones that killed samer hanna while on duty on a lebanese army hellicopter (relieved after few months of jail), not to see he is as dangerous as smaha after seeing the tapes on tv, not as dangerous as the one trying to put a bomb in boutros harb elevator...and we can go on...
U are no better than assir suporter on this one, a real shame...

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 14:53

We must thank the ones that helped to catch assir of course, while maybe we must see who got involved in gebran tueini assassination of wissam el hassan hours after coming back from the same airport...
Now really southern stop ur nonesence, whatever u say hezbos will stay an ISLAMIC party founded and dirrected by iranians mollah and great leader senile khomaiini...
Chill go enjoy ur day man...
By the way i wonder where he did plastic surgery this also should be important...

Default-user-icon John (Guest) 15 August 2015, 14:54

You are all losers since you have nothing better to do other than making stupid comments on every political event...

Thumb ex-fpm 15 August 2015, 14:54

you are asking the security agencies that are owned and controlled by nassrallah to arrest him.... that is a long shot.

Default-user-icon Vick (Guest) 15 August 2015, 14:59

Nice job whoever did his plastic surgery,they should arrest him too.

Default-user-icon 103 (Guest) 15 August 2015, 15:00

Nice job whoever did the plastic surgery.

Thumb canadianpaul 15 August 2015, 15:08

Or the Czech citizens.

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 15:43

Southern.... :)

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 15:43

Thank u for my narrow vision u magnificant flame, and i do agre like i said above and long ago that it is a good catch..
But again, ali eid, the hero who was caught putting a bomb in butros harb elevator, the hezbos saints wanted for assassination of kebanese politicians? Shouldn't we catch them to or do they hv a special divine imunity?...

Default-user-icon mowaten (Guest) 15 August 2015, 16:03

I was thinking the same thing exactly the same. @cityboy we are so similar, we think the same, we are both shia extremists who pretend to be secular, we are both paid to post. I just hope people don't think we are the same person.

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 16:04

Bravo wou alf bravo to our LAF, finally a most wanted terrorist has been netted. Now let justice be done, let NOT this sob be given any preferential treatment, NO VIP status, nothing, just give him the fullest extent of the law, and no, no trading off with anyone, when all legal courses have been exhausted, let him be hung by the thick end of the rope, wou khalassnah ba2a.

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 16:10

Bass min ba3d el sakra, btiji il fekra, ma heyk? What are the lessons learned here? The only solutions to the growing problems of Lebanon can only come through the moderates of Lebanon and certainly not the radicals. The question to be asked, what created such radicals as Al Assir, and why, exactly, why? Because when you stifle the Sunni moderates, when you try to drown their voices, when you try to stumble repeatedly their crucial role, then will come the radicals and extremists who will all too happily shove aside the moderates, then come the disasters whose bills are beyond our affording. In this context, Hezbollah has done everything to suffocate the role of Lebanon's moderate Sunni, known and recognized as the crux of our coexistence, and by doing so, exited the moderates and in came the extremists, I hope that we will start to learn from such mistakes.

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 18:19

Samy, good points you brought about, thank you, I concur.

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 16:11

Southern, in one year plus, Beirut airport's security has been revamped, you need to notice changes when they happen.

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 16:12

Leb08, this is one time when I agree with you, indeed, God bless the Lebanese army.

Thumb justin 15 August 2015, 16:56

do you ever stop spamming and trolling flamethrower?!!!! not normal

Thumb justin 15 August 2015, 17:04

you can't be serious?! how is tarek yatim free?! How can people take you seriously when you post outrageous claims such as the above!

Thumb EagleDawn 15 August 2015, 17:11

flamethrower, your restless search for justice is well founded.
Ossa mo2assira jiddan jiddan, nizlit dam3ti man.

Missing imagine_1979 15 August 2015, 17:43

I think so to, so let them die of rage...
But if u were talking about march 14 or any patriotic lebanese against any fanatic millicia (including hezbollah) in ur twisted mind by saying qaaida supporter then:

It is sad not to see that this extremist is like the ones that killed samer hanna while on duty on a lebanese army hellicopter (relieved after few months of jail), not to see he is as dangerous as smaha after seeing the tapes on tv, not as dangerous as the one trying to put a bomb in boutros harb elevator...and we can go on...
U are no better than assir suporter on this one, a real shame...

Default-user-icon Amerileb (Guest) 15 August 2015, 17:45

Is it me only or is the most obvious question .." How did they manage to board a plane in the first place ?" .. They went right through security and actually got on the plane .. With forged passports!


Thumb galaxy 15 August 2015, 17:57

I agree with you flamethrower the lebanese "are not expecting justice to be handed.". That is why you see Roumieh is flooded with inmates who have never been tried some of which go back to more than 20 years ago. Also, thousands of your hizbollah go to kill freely in Syria and are in fact VIPs as far as General Security is concerned and the thugs of the Resistance Brigades are free to roam, kill, kidnap, and embezzle.

Thumb megahabib 15 August 2015, 18:13

Skin him alive!

Thumb -phoenix1 15 August 2015, 18:17

Leb08, you're kinda your leader sayed hassan, for every good move, you screw up with 10 wrong moves.

Missing redherring 15 August 2015, 18:52

Nigeria, wait isn't this where they keep catching Hezbollah financiers!

Thumb lebnanfirst 15 August 2015, 19:00

If flame's intent is to muddy the water as they say, one needs read no further through the comments below as it really won't make any difference.

As Justin pointed out, Tareq Yateem is not free.

That aside, our justice system is indeed in need of rectifying if not total restructuring on the human level. The laws are on the books but the implementation is skewed by feudal, political and sectarian considerations of which most of us are aware. Underlying all of that is a basic discord amongst us Lebanese; for there appears to be two schools of thought as to what basic philosophies shall underpin our state foundations.

The first, espoused by the vast majority of Christians (FPMr's included one hopes), Druzes and, post the Qournet Shahwan era, Sunnis. Perhaps now most Shiite followers of Amal as well. The second is espoused by Hizbullah and the vast majority of it's Shiite followers and others.

Thumb lebnanfirst 15 August 2015, 19:03

The second is anchored in religious or other forms of collectivism. That a single chosen individual shall dictate what is acceptable politically and morally according to their own interpretation of religious or other dictums. Any and all differences in approaches to governance and acceptable social norms and morals are subject to the dictates of the One.

Though the second school of thought has historically proved capable at devising and employing workable systems that were efficient militarily, it ultimately failed at the social level. Humans are flexible creatures driven by incentive more so than dogma. Hitler's philosophy was defeated militarily while that of the Soviet Union imploded under its own weight.

Thumb lebnanfirst 15 August 2015, 19:04

Once the majority of Lebanese that espouse the first school of thought assert themselves without violence then we will be ready to tackle the deeper issues, such as that raised by flame above, successfully. I choose to believe that the vast majority of us share the first school of thought while differing about the means to achieve it.

True, we have an imperfect system and it's also true that we DO have a system. Rather than attempting to scrap it all, we should agree on working to change it from within because what's on the books is not the problem.

If we can agree on that, then lets adhere to the existing rules, no matter one's perception of how just they are, and elect a president then work from within to restructure the system. Only then will we be able to address the other grievances that plague our nation. The "my way or the highway" attitude and approach is perceived by the vast majority of us Lebanese as the rule of One. As such, it is rejected.

Thumb lebnanfirst 15 August 2015, 19:08

*apologies since this paragraph should have immediately followed the first comment*

The first is anchored in individualism. That each individual is endowed with inalienable rights and that any system of governance must respect and uphold that tenet regardless of religion, political affiliations, gender, creed or wealth. That the system of government be based on rotation of power whereby the majority should predominate and transparent elections by the people, or their representatives, shall be the mechanism employed to adjudicate differences in approaches to governance and acceptable social norms and morals.

Thumb shab 15 August 2015, 19:32

Why isn't he a saint like the other saints?

Default-user-icon JCWilliams (Guest) 15 August 2015, 20:38

He was wearing women's clothing and having surgeries because he is undergoing a transformation like the former Bruce Jenner from man to woman, Hopefully he can finish the transformation in a Lebanese prison. His followers will love him there like the young boys that they favor.

Missing VINCENT 16 August 2015, 01:02

I would've tried to look like "Bugs Bunnie". Disgusting people.

Default-user-icon eli (Guest) 16 August 2015, 09:01

Fanatic Assir..not smart.. shoyldve had contact lenses