On Aug. 22, the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, posted a short video featuring nine captured members of Lebanon’s security forces. Al Nusrah is using the kidnapped men in its propaganda war against Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that is fighting alongside Bashar al Assad’s forces in Syria.
The video, titled “Who Will Pay the Price?,” shows the nine hostages sitting on the ground in front of Al Nusrah’s black banner. The first of the hostages to speak is a recruit who signed up to fight for the Lebanese army. He calls on the people in his home village to protest until all of Hezbollah’s fighters are removed from Syria. If Hezbollah does not exit the Syrian war, he is made to say by Al Nusrah, all of the hostages will be killed.
A second Lebanese soldier then speaks, echoing the threat made by the first: Hezbollah must remove its forces from Syria, or the hostages will be killed. He says that he is a Shiite and he wants his family and all Shiites in Lebanon to protest against Hezbollah.
Two more soldiers then call on upon their family members and fellow citizens to blockade the roads in Lebanon, making it more difficult for the group to operate. One of them accuses Hezbollah of targeting Sunni families in Lebanon.
Another hostage says that Al Nusrah will answer every one of Hezbollah’s operations in Syria with an attack against Shiites in Lebanon. And still another addresses Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, asking him if it is acceptable within Islam to kill Muslim women and children. Of course, al Qaeda and its branches have killed many Muslim women and children.
Toward the end of the video, the first hostage is shown again and he claims that he and his fellow hostages were not coerced into making their statements. Still another hostage closes out the video by praising Al Nusrah. The statements made by the hostages should not be accepted at face value, however, as the video is a propaganda ploy by Al Nusrah.
The hostages were all reportedly captured in early August, during intense fighting in Arsal, which is in northern Lebanon on the Syrian border. Interestingly, fighters from both the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot that is at odds with Al Nusrah, participated in the operations against Lebanese security forces.
According to Gulf News, the two jihadist groups are believed to be holding 28 hostages. Eighteen of them are being held by Al Nusrah, while the remaining 10 are being held by the Islamic State. In total, 26 of them have been identified. [For more on the hostages, and attempts to free them, see LWJ report: The Muslim Scholars Committee and the Lebanese tinderbox.]