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A Lebanese sheikh staged his own kidnapping allegedly in a desperate bid to secure a ransom and repay debts, a security official and his neighbors said Friday.

Police arrested Sheikh Mohammed Majthoub, the prayer leader at a Sunni Muslim mosque in the town of Majdel Anjar, for “plotting a fictional kidnapping,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Majthoub’s car had been found late Tuesday with its engine still running and hazard lights flashing on a side road of the town located in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley.

His white turban was found lying on the ground in a nearby street.

But police found Majthoub ( or Majzoub) who is in his 20s, in a house near Majdel Anjar on Thursday night, with his beard and and hair shaven off but otherwise unharmed. AFP

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