December 31, 2016
Lebanese police have gunned down a suspected Hezbollah member after he attempted to rob a bank in the capital Beirut, local media sources and activists have said on social media.
The perpetrator, identified as Abbas Ali Ziaytar, attempted to rob a branch of the Itimad bank in Beirut yesterday before he and an accomplice were intercepted by police.
MEMO has seen footage showing Ziaytar laying on the ground with a single gunshot wound just beneath his neck. He was still breathing and in subsequent footage can be seen being rushed for treatment by Lebanese security forces.
Ziaytar, 22 years old from Baalbek, later succumbed to his wounds.
According to the Lebanese outlet Janoubia, which focuses on news from the Lebanese south where the Shia Hezbollah militant group is strongest, Ziaytar had travelled to Syria many times in order to fight on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad.
Several Lebanese outlets covered the story of the Hezbollah bank robber being killed, but some later took it down after Ziaytar’s Hezbollah links were confirmed by multiple sources. Lebanese MTV was one of those to remove the story.
Janoubia also said that Hezbollah released a statement saying that it had dismissed Ziaytar from the Shia jihadist group a long time ago due to “behavioural reasons”.
However, considering Ziaytar’s young age and the fact that the Syrian civil war has been ongoing since 2011, there is speculation that Ziaytar was either an active member of Hezbollah at the time of his killing, or else he had only recently been let go by the Iranian proxy.
Hezbollah, backed and supported by Shia regional power Tehran, is the most powerful of all Lebanese factions. It is deeply embroiled in the Syrian civil war, supporting Iranian strategic aims in the war-torn country that has killed almost half a million Syrians since 2011.