Source: The Daily Star- The Lebanese government is ready to accept a swap deal with jihadists, announced the Muslim Scholars Committee, as they made rounds with Lebanese officials in preparation to return to mediation.
“We can assure the families [of the captives] that the state is ready to release many of the youth, but not all of them,” Sheikh Salem Rafei, the committee head, said after meeting Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk as part of a tour with officials to discuss the association’s return to the negotiations as principle mediators to release 25 soldiers and policemen beind held captive.
By “youth,” the Salafist sheikh was referring to the Islamist detainees being held in Roumieh prison over links to fundamentalist groups. ISIS and the Nusra Front, holding the hostages in northeast Lebanon, are demanding the release of the detainees as a condition to free the men.
Rafei reiterated that his committee would only accept to carry on with mediation efforts once officially tasked by the Lebanese government, who, he said, must also release the detained ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the wife of an ISIS commander in Syria.
“Sister Saja [Dulaimi] is at the military court, while sister Ola [Olayli] was handed over to General Security,” Rafei said, in reference to Baghdadi’s divorcee and the wife of ISIS commander Anas Sharkas, better known as Abu Ali al-Shishani.
Rafei said that neither two women, whom he deemed “innocent,” had been found guilty of any charges related to terrorism, despite the fact that Lebanon’s military court issued an indictment that same day against Dulaimi on the charges of belonging to a terrorist group, holding contacts with terrorist organizations and planning to carry out terrorist attacks, judicial sources said.
The Military Tribunal also issued an indictment against her Palestinian husband, Kamal Khalaf, who was interrogated beside her.
Before meeting with Machnouk, the sheikhs met with Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and the head of the Internal Security Forces Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous.
Around 7 p.m., the sheikhs arrived to Clemenceau to meet with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, who had visited the families of the captives at their permanent protest site in Riad al-Solh earlier in the day.
The Muslim Scholars is insisting on an official recongition by the government as mediators to avoid complications for associating with groups the government formally deems as terrorist organizations.