BEIRUT – TheLebanese wife of Syrian Political Security chief General Rustom Ghazaleh was held upon her arrival from Dubai in Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport Sunday night, separated from her children, and coerced into returning to Syria.
Loubna Oweidat was lured to Beirut and set-up for a legal ambush at the airport by “influential parties close to Ghazaleh,” sources told NOW on Monday.
A lawyer accompanying Oweidat at the airport allowed security forces to detain her for an outstanding theft warrant that he himself had filed for days before as part of a legal ploy to pressure her into returning to Syria, the sources said.
The warrant filed with the Appellate Prosecution’s Office of the Beqaa accused Oweidat of stealing money and jewelry from Ghazaleh’s first wife, but the lawyer had later asked for a writ cancelling the charges under the pretext of reconciliation between the two women.
After holding a private conversation with Oweidat and convincing her to return to Syria to avoid arrest in Lebanon, the lawyer brandished the writ to the airport security officials, who promptly released her, the sources added.
Meanwhile, an eyewitness onboard Oweidat’s Middle East Airline’s Flight 429 from Dubai related to NOW the circumstances of her arrival in Beirut late Sunday night.
He said that after the plane landed, a female passenger speaking in a clear Lebanese Arabic accent began shouting, “The Syrians want my children, the Syrians want to kidnap my children.”
As a group of passengers began gathering around the woman, a man stepped forward to separate the crowd and said, “I am Rustom Ghazaleh’s brother.”
The eyewitness added that after disembarking the plane, he witnessed a heavy presence of General Security personnel at the gate.
Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that General Security personnel at the airport took Oweidat’s children from her and escorted them to a “suitable” place until their father or guardian could come to pick them up.
Ghazaleh had been awarded the custody of his children following a ruling by a Syrian Sharia court, which obligated airport security to hold Oweidat’s children, the report added.
Ghazaleh—who was appointed Syria’s political security chief in July 2012—first rose to prominence as the infamous head of Damascus’ military intelligence apparatus in Lebanon from 2002 to 2005, when Syria’s military withdrew from the country.
The UN International Independent Investigation Commission investigating the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafiq Hariri questioned Ghazaleh over the killing, but did not formally link him to the incident.
However, media reports have said that Ghazaleh had threatened Hariri prior to his death.