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Killer of kidnapped soldier arrested.

Summary: The Lebanese Army arrested Syrian terrorist Ali Ahmad Lakkis, a senior member of al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front wanted for the murder of a Lebanese soldier, as he attempted to leave Lebanon Friday, using a fake Syrian passport.

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army arrested Syrian terrorist Ali Ahmad Lakkis, a senior member of al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front wanted for the murder of a Lebanese soldier, as he attempted to leave Lebanon Friday, using a fake Syrian passport.

Army investigators concluded that it was Lakkis, also known as Abu Aesha, who shot dead kidnapped serviceman Mohammad Hamiyeh, who was abducted by militants during fighting in the northeastern town of Arsal in 2014.

Abu Aesha was reportedly close with the Nusra's top Qalamoun commander, Abu Malek al-Talleh, with whom he resided for some time on the town's outskirts.

He was also an expert in assembling explosives, and confessed to using these bombs in Lebanon.

The soldier's father, Maarouf Hamiyeh, thanked the Army for arresting his son's murderer and praised them for their "vigilance and hard work." Hamiyeh condemned the media for its negative role in over-speculating the identity and nationality of the murderer.

"It all doesn't matter to me," he said. "We thank the government, but justice is incomplete without the capture of Abu Takiya [Arsal Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri]." He criticized politicians' indifference to the plight of the kidnapped soldiers and the repatriation of the bodies of those who were killed.

Abu Aesha provided interrogators with information on suspects involved in the kidnapping of the 30 Lebanese servicemen who were abducted by Nusra and ISIS militants in August 2014 during a five-day battle with the army.

Since then, eight have been released and four killed. Twenty-five servicemen remain in the custody of the militants.

Investigators will continue interrogating Abu Aesha to uncover more details, the military announced in a statement.

In parallel, a militant accused of attempting to assassinate Lt. Col. Khattar Nassereddine, the head of General Security in north Lebanon, claimed that he and his fellow members of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades are fighting against Israel and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Bilal Kayed, who was arrested in April 2013 during a Lebanese Army raid in the northeastern border town of Arsal, appeared before the Military Tribunal alongside Jamal Daftardar, the group's suspected second in command, and Naim Abbas, the reported mastermind of several bomb attacks. Suspect Youssef Shabatiya was also present, and several others were being tried in absentia.

The men are charged with involvement in terrorist organizations, training and arming new recruits, assembling explosives and planting them in cars, transporting assailants to and from Lebanon and bringing in rockets and weapons with the aim of threatening peace and security.

Kayed confirmed that in 2005 he met one of the founders of the group, Abu Youssef al Jezzrawi, in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, and began planning operations against Israel. But he denied that he intended to attack Lebanese figures. After the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the group "became more liberated," according to Kayed, and began supporting the Free Syrian Army in their battle against Assad.

Kayed has a degree in IT and communications and has been married to a Syrian woman since 2013. Later that year, he attempted to escape to Syria with a fake Syrian passport to live with his wife's relatives, but returned to the camp when he failed.

The court adjourned the proceedings until March 14, 2016.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Nov 28, 2015
Words:584
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