Reacting to Friday’s kidnapping of the 2 Turkish pilots on their way from Rafik Hariri International Airport to their hotel in downtown Beirut, March 14 MP Mohammad Kabbara proposed activating the Renee Mouawad airport in Kleyate (Matar al-Qulay`at), , for international travel since the Rafik Hariri International Airport has become a haven for terrorists .
Describing the abduction as a terrorist act par excellence Kabbara said the airport is infiltrated by terrorists from the control tower all the way to its porters. He added that the kidnapping took place few meters away from the army checkpoint and yet the army could not secure the safety of the pilots
Commenting on the name of the group that claimed responsibility for the abduction ( visitors of Imam ali Reda) , he said: The Lebanese and foreign visitors have the right to arrive at a safe airport and a secure road to get to their places of stay , this airport is not for the visitors of Imam ali Reda stressing that the abduction raised more than an alarm .
It is worth noting that the Renee Mouawad airport in Kleyate has all the equipment needed to make it operational, according to a report in Arabic dated September 2012 by the chairman of the committee in charge of airport operation Hamid Bakkar Zakaria and all it needs is a political green light to obtain the needed aviation agreements to operate it.
March MP Jean Ogassapian pointed fingers at Hezbollah and said the abduction of the Turkish Airlines pilots in Beirut bore the hallmarks of the militant Shiite group
“No security incident takes place without the knowledge of Hezbollah,” Ogassapian said in an interview with Voice of Lebanon (93.3) radio station on Saturday.
“The area in which the kidnapping of the two pilots took place is under its complete control.” He said and added
“The airport road is hostage to Hezbollah.”
Early on Friday, gunmen stopped a bus boarded it and kidnapped a pilot and a co-pilot working for Turkish Airlines on Beirut’s airport road, Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told reporters . They were riding the bus from Rafic Hariri International Airport to their hotel when the assailants in two vehicles stopped it.
An unknown group that goes by the name of “Visitors ( Zouwar) of Imam al-Rida ” claimed responsibility for the kidnapping .Lebanon’s National News Agency NNA said on Friday that the this group issued a statement saying that the (Turkish ) pilots “will only be released when the Lebanese hostages in Syria return to Lebanon.
It appears that this group is connected to the relatives of the 11 Shiite pilgrims who were kidnapped in Syria in May 2012 on their way from Iran to Lebanon. Turkey was involved in trying to help the Lebanese government in its negotiation to free the pilgrims from the Syrian rebels who kidnapped them in an Aleppo province.
Turkey which had nothing to do with the kidnapping , was accused by the relatives of not doing enough to free the pilgrims and for this reason they arranged during the past several months several rallies, sit-ins and protests against Turkish Airlines and the Turkish embassy in Beirut to pressure the Turkish government to do more.
The Syrian rebels released 2 of the kidnapped pilgrims and claimed that the remaining 9 Shiite pilgrims were members of Hezbollah and promised to release as soon as Hezbollah will quit supporting the Syrian regime in its deadly crackdown against the uprising.
One of the spokespersons for the Shiite pilgrims’ relatives , Sheikh Abbas Zgheib who is a also a member of the Highest Shiite council said the relatives of the kidnapped pilgrims support the abduction of the pilots
“So far, there is no indication of any involvement of the [Shiite pilgrims’] relatives in the kidnapping of the Turkish airplane’s pilot and his co-pilot,” Zgheib told the National News Agency on Friday .
“The Shiite pilgrims’ relatives support the kidnapping, especially if it aims at putting an end to the detention of their relatives in Syria.” He said .
Photo: Renee Mouawad airport in Kleyate Kleyate (Matar al-Qulay`at) , which was named after the late President Mouawad who was assassinated on November 22, 1989 by a massive bomb