Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest

A man shouts as he protests against banks outside a bank where another armed man holds hostages in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. (AP)
A man shouts as he protests against banks outside a bank where another armed man holds hostages in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 12 August 2022

Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest

Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest
  • Bassam Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested on Thursday after holding employees hostage
  • After surrendering himself he was told he would not be jailed

BEIRUT: The Lebanese man who held eight bank employees hostage at gunpoint while demanding the release of his frozen savings remained behind bars on Friday pending further inquiries.

Bassam Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested after voluntarily leaving the Federal Bank branch in Beirut on Thursday evening following a seven-hour standoff.

On Friday, members of his family blocked Al-Ouzai Road in Beirut in protest at his continued detention saying it was in breach of an agreement made the night before.




An armed man Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, speaks with one of his hostages inside a bank, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. (AP)

Al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, surrendered after being told his family would be given $35,000 of his money and being promised he would be questioned and then set free. Inside the bank he had been armed with a pump-action shotgun and gasoline, which at on point he said he would use to set himself alight.

Many people in the crowd that had gathered outside the bank during the siege applauded as he was led away. Lebanon’s central bank imposed a freeze on all bank deposits in 2019.

Despite the promise that he would be allowed to walk free, after leaving the bank Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested and detained on the orders of the Lebanese judiciary.

Lawyer Haytham Ezzo told Arab News that Al-Sheikh Hussein was detained by the Information Branch of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and denied access to a lawyer despite it being his legal right to have one present.

“Even if no one sues him, there’s the public right,” he said. “Either the investigating judge asks for his release after he’s referred to him by the Information Branch, or asks for his arrest.”

Ezzo said it was possible that Al-Sheikh Hussein had been arrested for endangering state security or threatening to kill or kidnap.

As for the money paid to the family, that could not be reclaimed by the bank as “it doesn’t constitute a criminal tool. It is the arrested depositor’s right and property,” he added.

Hassan Mughnieh, the head of Lebanon’s Depositors Association, who was in charge of the negotiations between Al-Sheikh Hussein and the bank, told Arab News that “neither the employees who were held hostage nor the Federal Bank sued him.”

But the gunman would remain behind bars until next week at the earliest, he said.

“Things will become clear on Tuesday, as it’s the weekend and judges do not work on Monday in the Justice Palaces.”

He added: “As depositors, we will organize a protest in front of Beirut’s Justice Palace on Tuesday and in front of the Directorate General of the Internal Security Forces. We don’t have a problem with Al-Sheikh Hassan’s arrest, but justice says the bank owner should also be arrested.”

Mughnieh said he had received many calls from other disgruntled bank depositors saying they wanted to act as Al-Sheikh Hassan had done.

Lebanese bank customers have had their deposits frozen since the start of the country’s economic crisis and slump of its currency.

Castro Abdallah, head of the National Federation of Trade and Employees Unions, said on Friday that “the affected people should stand together in order to recover the stolen public and depositors’ money.”

He called on unions to protest next Thursday in the commercial street of Hamra in Beirut.

Lebanon’s caretaker deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami warned that Lebanon was standing at a crossroads.

“We need to acknowledge the reality and the crises we are facing and confront them. This means that we should take the needed measures and carry out the critical and necessary reforms that put the country on the right path.”

He added that the financial and monetary policies adopted in recent years in a bid to buy time had failed and that time was now running out.

“No one will rescue us if we don’t try to rescue ourselves,” he said. “Receiving help from the little friends we have left in the world will not achieve the desired outcome.”


UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
Updated 49 sec ago

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
  • Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, tomorrow (Nov.30)
  • If the lunar mission succeeded, the UAE would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

DUBAI: The UAE has completed the final preparations to launch its first rover to the moon, it was announced on Tuesday.

Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon.

In a statement, Japan-based ispace inc. announced it had completed the integration of its HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, Founder and CEO of ispace.

“To do this, we utilized a design and development model that balanced reliability and low costs by employing proven technologies and components from around the world,” he added.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) invited viewers from all over the world to watch the launch live at 12:39pm UAE time (GMT+4).

The rover will land on the “unexplored moon surface at Atlas Crater, on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Cold”)” in April 2023, the center said.

“The target site criteria were carefully considered by the Emirates Lunar Mission Team, including the duration of continuous sun illumination and communication visibility from Earth,” the MBRSC said in a statement.

If the lunar mission succeeded, the UAE would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

The 10kg Rashid rover will study the properties of lunar soil, mobility on the lunar surface, the petrography and geology of the moon, dust movement, and study surface plasma conditions and the moon’s photoelectron sheath.

It will send data and images back to Earth, using two high-resolution cameras: Microscopic, and thermal imaging ones, said the mission’s team.

The lunar mission was the latest of the UAE’s effort in space exploration. Earlier in February 2021, the UAE made history by landing its Hope probe to Mars, becoming the first Arab nation to launch an unmanned mission to the red planet.


More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
Updated 9 min 8 sec ago

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
  • The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered

TEHRAN: Iran has for the first time reported that more than 300 people have died in over two months of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
The Islamic republic has deployed state security forces against what it labels “riots” that broke out after the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian died on September 16, three days after her arrest for allegedly breaching Iran’s dress code for women.
“Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady,” said Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajjizadeh of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a video published by the Mehr news agency.
“I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we have had perhaps more than 300 martyrs and people killed,” among them some of “the best sons of the country,” said Hajjizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division.
The toll includes those who have taken to the streets as well as dozens of police, troops and IRGC militia who have died in clashes with demonstrators or who were killed elsewhere.
The latest official death toll is much closer to the figure of at least 416 people “killed in the suppression of protests in Iran” published by the Oslo-based non-government group Iran Human Rights.
The group says its toll includes those killed in violence related to the Amini protests and in distinct unrest in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Thousands of Iranians and around 40 foreigners have been arrested and more than 2,000 people have been charged, according to judicial authorities.
Among these, six have been sentenced to death, with their appeals set to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the monarchy, Iranian law requires all women to wear modest dress and a hijab head covering that conceals their hair, rules enforced by morality police squads that patrol public places.
Over the past two decades, however, many women, especially in Tehran and other major cities, have shown more of their hair, before the rules were tightened again — a flashpoint issue in the protests.
Iran has blamed its enemies for the civil unrest, pointing at the United States, other Western powers and Israel, as well as exiled Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups based in northern Iraq whom it has hit with repeated missiles and drone strikes.
Amid the heightened tensions, Iran’s national football team will play the US side at the World Cup in Qatar from 1900 GMT Tuesday — a match seen as highly political between the countries that have had no diplomatic relations since 1980.
Iran’s judicial authorities Tuesday announced the release of more than 1,100 detainees in 20 provinces, including protesters, following Iran’s World Cup win Friday against Wales, the Mizan Online news agency reported.


UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
Updated 29 November 2022

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
  • Dubai police arrest 6 ‘high-value’ suspects linked to Netherlands, Spain, France
  • Emirates committed to joint global security pacts, says deputy PM

DUBAI: The UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan lauded on Monday the arrest of 49 drug kingpins, including six chief suspects in Dubai, involved in a “super-cartel” that controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade network.

The arrests were the result of coordinated efforts between the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, the Dubai Police General Command, the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation Europol, and several overseas law enforcement agencies.

 

 

With the support of Europol, parallel investigations launched in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE targeted the activities of the prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.

Over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement officers during the massive international operation, Europol said.

Dubai had arrested two “high-value” suspects with ties to the Netherlands, two with ties to Spain, and two with ties to France.

“One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish,” a Europol source told AFP.

 

 

Another 13 people were arrested in Spain, six in France and 10 in Belgium, while 14 people were nabbed in 2021 in the Netherlands as part of the same operation, Europol said.

Sheikh Saif attributed the success of Operation Desert Light to the cooperation between nations and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Joint agreements remained a key part of the UAE’s commitment to global safety and security, he said.

In September, Europol and the UAE Ministry of Interior signed a Liaison Officer Agreement, as part of this commitment to tackle transnational crime, Europol said. The agreement ensures the deployment of UAE law enforcement liaison officers to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

A UAE official has already joined the network of over 250 liaison officers from more than 50 countries and organizations with permanent representation at Europol.


Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
Updated 29 November 2022

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
  • Rioters hurled bombs and fired shots at soldiers who responded with live fire

JERUSALEM: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest deaths in a sharp uptick in violence in the occupied territory.
Two brothers were killed by Israeli fire in Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, while a third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the ministry said.
Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on “rioters” who “hurled rocks and improvised explosive devices at the soldiers” after two vehicles got stuck during an “operation patrol” in the area.
The Palestinian ministry said a man it did not identify had died “after being shot in the head.”
It named the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.
Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an “execution in cold blood.”
Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza, said the Israeli “escalation” would be “confronted by escalating resistance” from Palestinians.
Violence has flared this year in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids across the territory.
This week the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.
The United Nations says more than 125 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this year. Israel has occupied the territory since the Six-Day War of 1967.


Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
Updated 29 November 2022

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
  • Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in Jenin
  • The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault

JERUSALEM: Three Israeli soldiers were detained on Monday, the military said, after allegedly hurling an improvised bomb at Palestinians near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as revenge for the seizing of the body of a teenager last week.
On Wednesday, in the occupied West Bank, which has seen an intensification of violence since March, Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in the town of Jenin where he had been taken after a car accident, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault to recover the teenager’s body. But it was quietly returned after some 30 hours following negotiations that, according to a diplomat, had involved the United Nations.
The gunmen did not announce their motivation, but Palestinians demonstrated in Jenin the same day, demanding the release of remains of their relatives which they said Israel was holding. The Druze are an Arab community in Israel whose members serve in its armed forces.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the attack on Palestinians near Bethlehem on Monday by Israeli Druze soldiers but could not provide further details.
Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz said if it came to light that the incident was an act of revenge, the military is dealing with a “severe incident which requires accountability.”
“Israeli soldiers don’t take the law into their hands and exact revenge,” Gantz tweeted.