Monday, 17 August 2015
Top ISIS member arrested while attempting to flee to Nigeria
After more than two years on the run, Islamic State top cleric in Lebanon, Ahmed Al Assir was arrested by Lebanese authorities on Saturday as he attempted to fly out of the country on a forged passport.
The country’s National News Agency reports that Mr. Al Assir was caught at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport on Saturday while trying to board a flight to Egypt using a fake Palestinian passport.
It quoted Lebanon’s general security directorate as saying Mr Al Assir was planning on flying to Nigeria via Cairo.
A photo posted by the National News Agency after the arrest revealed that Mr. Al Assir had recently adopted a new look, shaving his long, unkept beard and trading his usual religious robes and headwear for a more inconspicuous jacket and sweater.
Some local news outlets suggested Mr Assir had also had plastic surgery to alter his appearance. Mr Al Assir became one of the most wanted men in Lebanon after his militia went to battle with the Lebanese army in the port city of Sidon in 2013, resulting in the deaths of 18 soldiers and dozens of Mr Al Assir’s gunmen.
When the war in Syria began emboldening extremist Sunnis in Lebanon and inflaming sectarian tensions here, Mr Al Assir swiftly rose from obscurity to become a powerful voice.