Kidnapped Estonians: A case of mistaken nationality

Information obtained by LBC indicated that the “abductors of the seven Estonians wanted to kidnap French or British nationals and they were not aware of the nationality of the European cyclists. The mercenary gang headed by Wael Abbas was paid to carry out the mission.”

Seven Estonian men, in their 30s and early 40s, were kidnapped on March 23 at gunpoint in the eastern Bekaa Valley after entering Lebanon through Syria on their bicycles. The motive for the abduction until now remained unclear.

A previously unheard of group, Harakat al-Nahda wa al-Islah (Movement for Renewal and Reform), has demanded an unspecified ransom to free the seven Estonians.

Rabih Haber, who heads the Beirut-based website Lebanon Files, said his office had received an email demanding an unspecified sum in exchange for their release.

A Lebanese judge charged 11 people with kidnapping the seven Estonians a judicial official said last Friday.

“Eleven Lebanese have been charged with the kidnapping of the group, seven of whom are currently in custody and four who are being charged in absentia, and they will now face trial,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity on April 8.