BEIRUT — Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF) have arrested the suspected abductors of Ferial Neaimeh, a teacher at Brummana High School who was kidnapped on Thursday while on route to her job. According to an ISF statement, Neaimeh said she was able to free herself on the same day she was abducted by opening the lock of the trunk of the car in which her kidnappers had trapped her.
The suspects reportedly managed to steal $68,000 from the victim's home safe.
According to the ISF, Neaimeh was kidnapped on Thursday as she was heading to the garage in which her car was parked. "When the teacher did not arrive at a Brummana school, this aroused suspicion among the school administration, especially since the aforementioned [teacher] had not previously failed to attend," the statement reads.
Hours after the teacher went missing, Brummana High School issued a statement that was circulated on social media.
"The Information Division’s patrols immediately launched an investigation and found her car in Ouzai (in Beirut's southern suburbs), before Neaimeh was taken to a hospital for treatment by the Red Cross," the statement explained.
The victim later told the police that she was abducted and robbed of an amount of money.
'They put a knife to her throat'
According to the ISF investigation, the four suspects are Syrian nationals: the janitor of the victim's building, his wife and two other people.
The ISF statement describes how the suspects were apprehended.
"Orders were given to intensify surveillance and set up checkpoints [...] at the illegal crossings through which they are likely to leave for Syrian territory. On [Thursday] night, it turned out that those involved in the kidnapping had moved to the Lebanese-Syrian border area in the North Governorate, which made it likely that they would flee into Syrian territory, so a plan was drawn up to prevent their escape," the statement explains.
"At midnight, they were spotted moving into Syrian territory, so a force from the Information Division carried out an operation and managed to catch them moments before they entered Syrian territory, and by searching them, they seized an amount of $53,540," the ISF statement adds.
According to the ISF, following an interrogation, the suspects confessed to kidnapping Neaimeh in association with a fifth person.
The ISF statement also describes the ordeal Neaimeh endured, explaining that the abductors went to the victim's garage, where they "hit her, handcuffed her, and put her in the trunk of her car before driving her to Qartaba (Jbeil) to one of the accomplices' house."
"They put a knife to her throat, forced her to send a voice message to her housekeeper, in order to allow the building’s janitor to enter her house and steal the money from her bedroom safe," the statement adds.
According to the ISF statement, the building's janitor said he entered Neaimeh's house and took $68,000 from her apartment.
“In the meantime, the rest of the gang members left Qartaba for Jounieh in the hijacked car, after they put Neaimeh in the trunk of the car, and upon their arrival in Jounieh, the building’s janitor joined them, whereupon they headed to Ouzai while Neaimeh was still inside the trunk,” the statement continues.
After that, the gang members allegedly shared the money and headed to the North toward the Syrian border before being intercepted by the security forces.
A judicial investigation into the incident is underway, and efforts have been deployed to arrest the last suspect involved.
Violent security incidents have become a common occurrence in Lebanon, as the socioeconomic crisis that the country has been grappling with since 2019 worsens, pushing more and more people into poverty.
In November, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said that the crime rate in Lebanon has not increased so far this year, despite the spiraling economic crisis, in comparison with the same period last year.
Mawlawi's statement contradicts that of ex-General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim and Lebanese Army head Gen. Joseph Aoun, who have both warned of social instability in the wake of the crisis.
BEIRUT — Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF) have arrested the suspected abductors of Ferial Neaimeh, a teacher at Brummana High School who was kidnapped on Thursday while on route to her job. According to an ISF statement, Neaimeh said she was able to free herself on the same day she was abducted by opening the lock of the trunk of the car in which her kidnappers had trapped her.The...