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NOW

Zoheir Mrad, the football player
who studied Sharia law

Lebanese football player Zoheir Samih (Agencies)

BEIRUT - Every suspect is innocent until proven guilty. This is Zoheir Samih Mrad, the son of one of the founders of the Al-Ansar fan club. As a young child, he was introduced to the world of football through the Beirut club. He was known for his moderate religious beliefs. He was arrested by the Lebanese army intelligence on Wednesday while heading for a training session with the Racing Club, in Bourj Hammoud. His arrest came as a result of the information obtained from the interrogation of terror suspect Naim Abbas.

 

Following conflicting reports concerning the location where Mrad was arrested, sources told NOW that three Lebanese army patrols awaited Mrad at the entrance of the Bourj Hammoud Municipal Stadium. During the arrest, the army soldiers ordered the club players present at the scene not to intervene while others were ordered to stand by a wall or stay in their cars. Mrad was subsequently taken away as his fellow players looked on with amazement.

 

The sources added that the information regarding the suspect was sparse due to his isolation and introversion. However, he had close ties with his fellow players on the pitch, where a mood of fun and harmony prevails. Furthermore, Mrad was known for being moderately religious, as he would observe all prayers with his Sunni and Shiite colleagues.

 

Known for his modest appearance, Mrad used to wear long trousers underneath his shorts, as well as long socks. His shyness compelled him at times to ask his colleagues to act decently in his presence in the changing rooms.

 

The sources, however, dismissed the claims that Mrad was linked to terrorism or extremism, following allegations that he had been taking courses in Sharia law at Dar al-Fatwa for two years.

 

Regarding whether the Youth and Sports Ministry or the Lebanese Football Association should have intervened, the sources confirmed to NOW that the issue is related to national security since Mrad was arrested for terror charges following a request by the public prosecutor. It was therefore outside the scope of responsibilities of ministers, the Football Association, and the Racing Club. Meanwhile, the statement issued by the Lebanese army following the arrest announced that Mrad was apprehended on the basis of confessions provided by Naim Abbas who is being detained for terror charges.

 

Sources close to the Racing Club said that the club is fully confident of the competence of the judicial body and that Mrad, who is under investigation, is for the time being considered a suspect, but added that judgment should not be cast upon the player before the whole truth is revealed.

Lebanese football player Zoheir Samih. (Agencies)

Mrad was known for being moderately religious.