Lebanon security chief begins negotiations with Nusra to cancel hostage execution
The negotiations will take place with the use of a mediator to attempt to save the Lebanese captive Nusra has threatened to kill. (AFP/File)
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is negotiating through mediators with Nusra Front jihadis to compel them to cancel the execution of a captive soldier being held on Syrian border, a lawmaker told The Daily Star.
Future Movement MP Hadi Hobeiche denied to The Daily Star that the Nusra Front had gone back on its threat issued Thursday to execute soldier Ali Bazzal within 24 hours if the government failed to release a female terror suspect.
Hobeiche said that Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim had informed him that talks with the mediators are still ongoing.
“There is no confirmation that they are not going to kill Bazzal,” he said.
According to Hobeiche, Ibrahim is not communicating with the captors directly but is contacting the mediators who are attempting to persuade the captors to keep Bazzal alive.
Bazzal’s wife, Rana Fliti, told The Daily Star in a phone interview that an Arsal sheikh had traveled to the outskirts of the town around 6:15 p.m. to meet with the captors in an attempt to save his life.
Fliti denied receiving any confirmation of her husband’s safety, claiming that the “only person that could confirm that he is going to be alright is Sheikh [Mustafa] Hujeiri and his phone is out of signal since he is in the outskirts,” she said.
Fliti slammed the government for not being responsive, saying that not a single member of the crisis cell tasked with overseeing the hostage case was responding to her calls, or updating her on the situation.
She expressed hope that her husband would return safely and said she had full confidence in Hujeiri.
Hujeiri has been credited, along with Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, of saving other captives that the jihadis had threatened to execute.
Rumors circulated in the media that the execution had been called off.
But the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that that a decision to execute Bazzal was not revoked and no new deadline was issued.
Citing a Nusra Front source, Anadolu said that only the release of the terror suspect Joumana Hmeid would guarantee Bazzal's safety.
The Nusra Front Friday reissued its threat to execute Bazzal.
“Eight hours are left for the release of Joumana Hmeid before carrying out the death [sentence] against the captive Ali Bazzal,” read a statement on a Nusra Twitter page.
The threat was posted around 3:30 p.m., meaning the deadline was around 11:30 p.m.
The statement came after Nusra threatened Thursday to execute one of the 26 Lebanese captives being held by jihadis on the northeast border unless Lebanon release Hmeid within 24 hours.
The statement said that if the government wanted to prove that it was willing to carry out serious negotiations then it should release Hmeid as a “goodwill gesture.”
Hmeid was formally charged by Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr over involvement with Al-Qaeda-linked groups, after she was caught driving a car rigged with 50 kilograms of explosives on the Arsal-Labweh road last February.
Hmeid is the first woman to be accused of complicity with a terrorist organization since the spate of car bombs and suicide attacks targeted areas seen as sympathetic to Hezbollah over the past year and a half.
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