Ship’s captain held in Lebanon over border plot to smuggle fuel to Syria

Ship’s captain held in Lebanon over border plot to smuggle fuel to Syria
The vessel’s journey began in Istanbul, and it sailed to the Greek island of Crete before arriving off Lebanon at the end of September. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Ship’s captain held in Lebanon over border plot to smuggle fuel to Syria

Ship’s captain held in Lebanon over border plot to smuggle fuel to Syria
  • The Panamanian-registered Jaguar S was intercepted off the Lebanese coast at Zahrani, a notorious stronghold for the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and the Amal Movement

BEIRUT: A ship’s captain and a shipping agent were arrested in Lebanon on Tuesday on charges of trying to smuggle 4 million liters of petrol into Syria.
The arrests have shone a light on flagrant violations in Lebanon of the US Caesar Act, which targets trade with the Assad regime and imposes sanctions for noncompliance.
Bashir Matar, head of Al-Qaa border municipality, told Arab News that smuggling was rife on Lebanon’s border with Syria, with illegal transport of fuel as well as people trafficking, and that rival gangs fought over lucrative routes.
“On the outskirts of the Al-Qaa plain on the border, battles broke out … between Syrian and Lebanese families and clans over a plot of land used as a crossing for smuggling,” he said.
“We are witnessing attempts by several groups to seize land close to the borders to be used for smuggling.”
Security sources told Arab News the Panamanian-registered Jaguar S was intercepted off the Lebanese coast at Zahrani, a notorious stronghold for the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and the Amal Movement.
Investigators believe the ship’s crew intended to circumvent the Caesar Act, and Lebanese military intelligence and police suggested the two detainees had confessed to planning to unload the fuel in Lebanon before smuggling it into Syria.
The vessel’s journey began in Istanbul, and it sailed to the Greek island of Crete before arriving off Lebanon at the end of September.
“The ship switched off its GPS device before entering Lebanese waters so that its movement could not be monitored via satellites,” a security source told Arab News.
“Upon docking, its cargo was supposed to be unloaded in cooperation with complicit parties and transported in installments by land to Syria, protected by forces that benefit from this operation and control the illegal crossings between Lebanon and Syria.
“An inspection of the manifest by Lebanese customs showed that the ship, which is flying the flag of Panama, had changed its name more than once in the past years.
“The Syrian Al-Naem Co., based in Harasta, Damascus, is communicating with influential people in Lebanon to get the shipment of petrol through Lebanese territory in order to be smuggled into Syria by land to bypass the Caesar Act.”

 


Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
Updated 23 min 54 sec ago

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
  • The 3 were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday and arrived in Bahrain via Oman
  • They were arrested while fishing, Bahrain says they were in territorial waters

DUBAI: Three Bahrainis detained by Qatar have arrived back in the kingdom after Manama helped to extradite their release, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.
Bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad, his friend Mohammed Al-Dossari and fisherman Habib Abbas were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday after they were arrested by Qatari coast and border security while fishing at sea, in two separate incidents. Bahrain said that the three citizens were in the country’s territorial waters.
The three men thanked Bahrain’s King Hamad and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad for the attention and care that they had received, which they said had a great impact on their release and return.
They also thanked the interior ministry, headed by Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah, and the foreign ministry, headed by Abdullatif Al-Zayani, for their efforts and the measures that contributed to their safe return.
The men said that they were proud to see the “patriotic interest they received for their cause,” both from the government and the Bahraini people.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “profound thanks and gratitude to Oman for the efforts made by the authorities in the sultanate to coordinate and follow up on the release of Bahraini citizens detained in Qatar and to facilitate their return to Bahrain.”
The three arrived in Oman on Thursday following their release, the kingdom’s embassy in Muscat confirmed.
The ministry said that the release of the citizens by Qatar was “a step that reflects the spirit required toward resolving the outstanding issues between the two countries in order to enhance the process of cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”
The statement also said that Bahrain hoped that Qatar would release Asian sailors who work on Bahraini fishing vessels, and take into account their humanitarian situation.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, ended a three-year rift with Qatar on Jan. 5 following a GCC summit in the historic city of AlUla, formally restoring diplomatic relations and opening their land, sea and air borders.