A US Army Chinook Ch-47 helicopter soars noisily into the sky from the US Embassy in Awkar, a stone’s throw from Beirut. On March 19, the video ignited social networks, causing stupor and anger. For the Lebanese, there is no doubt that Amer Fakhoury, a Lebanese-American, is on board.
Accused of torture
The man, a former official in the South Lebanese Army (ALS), an Israeli-funded, auxiliary militia, is however subject to a court order to leave the country. A few hours later, a tweet from US President Donald Trump indicates that Washington had “Worked very hard to get him released”, “Thanking” the Lebanese government for its cooperation.
This “exfiltration” revives the heated controversy provoked on March 16 by the military court’s decision to release Amer Fakhoury, declaring the prescription for the acts of torture of which he was accused.
Lebanon: news from this country in the Middle East
This case revives the wounds of a painful past. This former member of the ALS who collaborated with Israel during the occupation by the Hebrew State of south Lebanon (1978-2000), is the former head of the prison of Khiam, created in 1984. A place of sinister memory for the Lebanese, since hundreds of people, including minors and old people, were detained there in inhuman conditions and tortured.
Others have disappeared. After the liberation of southern Lebanon, Amer Fakhoury, like thousands of ALS members, fled to Israel before settling in the United States. Judged in absentia in 1996, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for collaboration with Israel. Believing himself covered by the limitation periods, he reappeared at Beirut airport on September 11, 2019. Detainees and the families of the disappeared mobilized to have the “butcher of Khiam” arrested. He was prosecuted, among other things, for torture, murder and kidnapping.
Lebanon crushed by the weight of its debt
His release is the result of strong American pressure, directly initiated by Donald Trump, whose head of the National Security Council, Robert O’Brien, even called the head of state, Michel Aoun, according to sources close to the presidency. Lebanese. For Trump, in the middle of the campaign, the “Liberation of Americans imprisoned abroad”, constitutes a ” priority “. Behind the scenes, other pressures are orchestrated by Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who threatens Lebanon with sanctions.
In Beirut, the most virulent reaction to this exfiltration came from the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah who denounced a “ gross violation of sovereignty and justice »Lebanese and the« direct threats From Washington against Lebanese officials.
On Sunday March 22, a former ALS member, Antoine Hayek, who was under the command of Amer Fakhoury in Khiam, was shot dead in Miyé-Miyé, a village south of Saida. Coincidence or settling of accounts? The investigation may tell.