HomePoliticsFrom abduction to assasination

From abduction to assasination

Pascal Sleiman, photo from Lebanese Forces official website

The abduction and subsequent killing of Pascal Sleiman, a Lebanese Forces coordinator in Jbeil has ignited tensions and skepticism in Lebanon, spotlighting the country's pervasive insecurity and potential political motives behind such incidents.

Yesterday, the Lebanese public was consumed by news of the abduction of Pascal Sleiman, the coordinator of the Lebanese Forces in Jbeil. Tragically, Sleiman’s body was found in Syrian territory.

According to statements from the Lebanese army, investigations with Syrian individuals detained by authorities revealed that the abductee was fatally injured during their attempted carjacking  in the Jbeil region. Subsequently, they transported his body across the border into Syria.

Why this matters, Sleiman was apparently seized from his car in an area roughly 38 kilometers (24 miles) northeast of Beirut while making his way back from the town of al-Kharbeh, where he had been offering condolences to a bereaved family. As per the official National News Agency (NNA), four armed assailants driving a white Subaru blocked Sleiman’s path on the winding mountain road on Sunday afternoon before forcibly taking him.

Following the news of Sleiman’s death, incensed residents took to the streets in Jbeil city, setting tires alight and barricading roads. Videos circulated on social media showed enraged protesters smashing vehicles with Syrian license plates.

This recent wave of violence against Syrians in Lebanon is unfortunately not unprecedented. Periodically, tensions escalate, leading to Syrian refugees being unfairly targeted and falling victim to acts of mindless aggression.

However, Lebanese citizens took to social media to voice their skepticism regarding the provided narrative, expressing doubts about the plausibility of a simple theft scenario. Instead, there are suspicions circulating that the incident may be a politically motivated assassination. However, no official details have been released thus far.

Much of the controversy lies in that Sleiman’s political part,  the Lebanese Forces, have been victims of a similar hit.  Elias Hasrouny, a former coordinator of the Bint Jbeil region for the Christian Lebanese Forces party in the south of Lebanon, was found dead last August allegedly from a car accident but was later discovered through video footage to have been abducted by a hit squad and later executed. The Lebanese Forces, one day after the murder, issued a statement confirming the political nature of the crime and even went as far as naming Hezbollah as a factor in his murder.

 Much of the speculation and the unwillingness to believe the narrative provided by the Lebanese Army rests in the fact that Hezbollah maintains military positions in the area under Sleiman’s jurisdiction, and his murders makes the volatile political and secretin tensions even more thorny than they already are.

In a country plagued by lawlessness and governmental neglect, the unsettling reality of high-ranking individuals meeting mysterious ends is unfortunately not uncommon. Whether it’s attributed to theft or political motives, it underscores the pervasive sense of insecurity faced by Lebanese citizens within their own borders. The threat seems to emanate from all directions, leaving them in a constant state of peril.