Lebanon nabs Nigeria-bound extremist

Ahmad al-Assir, dubbed one of the most wanted extremists in Lebanon, was arrested on Saturday while attempting to make his way to Nigeria.

al-Assir was apprehended at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, after a failed attempt to by-pass the authorities with a fake passport and obvious change of looks.

In his bid to escape Lebanon, he shaved his beard and changed his hair.

The fiery cleric had been on the run after he and his supporters engaged the Lebanese army in a two-day battle, killing 18 soldiers back in June 2013.

Until his arrest, al-Assir was releasing audio statements, peddling rumours on his whereabouts and next move.

The UK Guardian said he was a lonely voice speaking out against Hezbollah, the military and political organisation that dominates Lebanese affairs.

Alongside his disciples, al-Assir was accused of having formed armed groups that attacked an institution of state, killed officers, took explosive materials and heavy weapons that were used against the army.

These accusations drove a military judge to recommending that the prosecutors seek death sentences for him and 53 of his allies, including one Fadel Shaker, a singer-turned-fundamentalist.