BEIRUT — The Lebanese Army announced Friday evening that it has arrested two men suspected of organizing the kidnapping of a Saudi national in Beirut.
Machari al-Maitari was kidnapped last Sunday before being freed by the army during a Tuesday operation on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
In a statement, the army said it arrested a man, whose initials are J.J., "in the district of Bekaa, [he] is responsible for the operation and organization of the kidnapping."
The army added that the suspect ordered the kidnapping and that he secured guns, masks, shelter and stolen cars for the operation.
The statement also said it arrested a second man — A.J. — in the area of Dibbiyyeh in the Chouf. The second suspect is part of the gang that kidnapped Maitari and transported him to the Bekaa.
Earlier on Friday, a security source told L'Orient-Le Jour that J.J. was arrested in the Bekaa after authorities pursued him in his car, which led to an exchange of gunfire.
One civilian was injured in the incident.
Following extensive searches on Tuesday, the army said it arrested dozens of people and seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition, as well as materials used in the manufacture of captagon. Those arrested are said to be members of the same gang that was involved in the kidnapping, according to the army.
At a Tuesday press conference with caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi and Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Boukhari, the latter thanked "the Lebanese Army, Internal Security Forces, as well as Mawlawi for having worked from the first hours [of the kidnapping] until the end of the operation with professionalism and speed."
Boukhari also added that "the security efforts deployed show that the Lebanese authorities are taking care to ensure the safety of tourists."
Additional reporting by Sarah Abdallah.