Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Lebanon

Newsline: Columbian imposter poses as Lebanese diplomat

A Colombian man is being investigated for posing as a Lebanese diplomat after giving lectures on the Middle East and advising the Colombian military under a false identity, local media reported. Jeyson Puello, a resident of the northeast city of Valledupar, was using diplomatic papers with a UN seal to pass himself off as Jason Ali Hakim Abdullaziz Al Nayb, supposedly a high-ranking diplomat and former Lebanese foreign minister, news reports said. Despite his perfect Spanish and ordinary clothing, Puello managed to get into official meetings and establish a network of army contacts under the assumed identity. But a curious colonel who noticed the “diplomat” always arrived at meetings on foot contacted the Lebanese embassy in Bogota. “There’s no person by that name,” he was told in a letter printed in newsweekly Semana. The letter called on Colombian authorities to investigate and try the “imposter.” Police caught Puello by sending a fake invitation to “the honourable ambassador.” He was briefly detained but has been released pending further investigation. Puello had two diplomatic accreditations, one from the Colombian foreign ministry and another identifying him as the Lebanese ambassador, said daily newspaper El Tiempo. The Colombian foreign ministry declined to comment. The incident comes 50 years after a seminarian in Neiva, in central Colombia, passed himself off as India’s ambassador, living a lavish life until the ruse was discovered. The episode inspired the 1987 film “El Embajador de la India” (The Indian Ambassador).



Newsline: Iran’s diplomat accused Israel of reliance on militants in Mideast

The Iranian ambassador to Beirut says terrorist acts by militants in the Middle East serve the interests of Israel. Mohammad Fat-hali made the remarks in a meeting with Lebanese Shia cleric Sheikh Abdel Emir Qablan. The Lebanese cleric, for his part, urged a united front against Takfiri militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) carrying out terror acts in Iraq, Lebanon and other regional countries.


Newsline: Saudi ambassador leaves Lebanon after blast

The Saudi ambassador to Beirut has reportedly left Lebanon after the Friday terrorist attack by a Takfiri group which targeted the Lebanese security chief. Ali Awad Assiri left Lebanon after tens of terrorism suspects were arrested, IRNA reported. Informed sources say most of the suspects apprehended at the hotels in Al Hamra district in downtown Beirut are foreign nationals with Arab passports, including Saudi individuals, and even French citizens. Following the terrorist incident, the US ambassador to Lebanon cancelled his meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and France urged its citizens across Lebanon to avoid outdoor activities. At least two people were killed and nearly 30 others injured after a bomb blast rocked a Lebanese police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway on Friday.


Newsline: Lebanese ambassador to South Korea killed in car crash

The Lebanese ambassador to South Korea died in a car accident in central Seoul on Thursday, police and fire officials said. A sedan driven by Jad Saeed El-Hassan, the top Lebanese diplomat in Seoul, rear-ended another car inside Namsan No. 3 Tunnel at about 12:08 p.m., according to the Yongsan Police Station. The ambassador died en route to a nearby hospital, while two people in the other vehicle were slightly injured, the officials said. Police said they are investigating the exact cause of the accident, including whether the ambassador was driving under the influence of alcohol. An official of the Lebanese Embassy in Seoul declined to comment on the ambassador’s death and said the office will soon have a briefing about the accident. In September, the diplomat underwent police questioning over a hit-and-run accident in the Itaewon district of Seoul. El-Hassan was assigned as the top Lebanese envoy to Seoul in April 2013.


Newsline: Iran’s embassy in Lebanon condemns killing of journalists in Syria

Iran’s embassy in Lebanon has strongly condemned the recent killing of three journalists who worked with Lebanese al-Manar television by the Takfiri terrorists in Syria. Al-Manar TV station said on Monday that three members of its staff were killed after they came under attack from the foreign-backed militants in the Syrian town of Ma’loula. Al-Manar identified the men as correspondent Hamza al-Hajj Hassan, technician Halim Allaw and cameraman Mohammed Mantash. Several other crew members were wounded. The shooting came shortly after Syrian armed forces retook the full control of Ma’loula. Iran’s embassy in Beirut issued a statement in condemnation of the terrorist act. The embassy also expressed condolences to Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the employees of the al-Manar network, the Lebanese Information Ministry, the families of the killed staff, and the Lebanese nation. According Reporters Without Borders (RSF), over 130 news providers were killed in Syria between March 2011 to December 2013. A Press TV correspondent is among the dead.


Newsline: Lebanon steps up security around Russian embassy following tip-off

Lebanese authorities have beefed up security around the Russian embassy in Beirut after receiving intelligence reports that the embassy would be targeted by “a major terrorist operation,” a security official said. “Foreign intelligence agencies informed Lebanese authorities that a major terrorist operation was being hatched with the Russian embassy in Beirut as its target,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency. Observers have suggested that militant groups might target the Russian embassy due to Moscow’s overt support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime. “The Russian embassy, in coordination with Lebanese security forces, has taken the necessary measures to protect its personnel,” the official asserted. Last November, the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut which killed 24 people, including the Iranian culture attaché.


Newsline: Iran legal, judicial team due in Lebanon over embassy attack

An Iranian deputy foreign minister says Tehran is set to dispatch a legal and judicial delegation to Lebanon this week to pursue recent bomb attacks targeting its embassy in Beirut. Iran Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that the legal team will include experts from the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, Attorney General’s Office and Foreign Ministry. “This delegation will travel to Lebanon in order to investigate the terrorist explosion in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut and to hold talks with Lebanese judiciary officials,” added the Iranian diplomat. On November 19, 2013, two bomb attacks near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut killed 25 people, including six Iranian nationals, and injured more than 150. Following the incident, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombings. Beirut later managed to arrest the Saudi leader of the terrorist group, Majed al-Majed, but he was announced dead in Lebanon’s military hospital on January 4. On Saturday, Lebanese Ambassador to Iran Fadi Haj Ali told IRNA that Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is due in Beirut on Monday. Haj Ali said Zarif will discuss with Lebanese officials the twin terrorist blasts outside the Iranian diplomatic mission in the Arab country.