Is Hezbollah involved in the biggest prostitution network ever exposed in Lebanon?
The prostitution network, revealed by the Lebanese police in the coastal city of Jounieh, north of Beirut, included 75 women, most of them Syrian.
By MAAYAN GROISMANUpdated: APRIL 6, 2016 13:23
Lebanon has been bustling in the past few days following the discovery of the biggest prostitution network ever operated in the country. While pro-Hezbollah newspapers deem that the Lebanese organization aided in exposing the network, anti-Hezbollah social media activists have launched an attack against the organization, claiming that one of its members was the network's head.The prostitution network, revealed by the Lebanese police in the coastal city of Jounieh, north of Beirut, included 75 women, most of them Syrian. The network's operators convinced the women to leave their homeland and move to Lebanon by offering them apparent jobs at Lebanese restaurants.Inspected by 18 guards at the brothel, the women were obliged to serve as prostitutes 20 hours a day. If a woman's client did not like the way he was treated by her, she would have been hit, tortured or sexually harassed by the network's operators.The network, which started operating in 2011, was not only a prostitution network, but also an ISIS-like human trafficking network, in which the operators sold or hired out women to other networks.Four women had managed to escape from the brothel, fleeing to the southern Dahiya, a Beirut suburb known as Hezbollah's enclave in Lebanon. A source affiliated with Hezbollah told the Lebanese daily newspaper al-Nahar that the women arrived in Dahiya believing that they would find a refuge there from the network's operators.The official Iranian news agency, Fars, also stressed the positive role performed by Hezbollah in that incident. Hailing the Lebanese terror organization, the story's headline on Fars read: "How did Hezbollah rescue young Syrian girls from prostitution network in Jounieh?"Nevertheless, anti-Hezbollah newspapers argued that the girls have undergone sexual harassment by Hezbollah's members, which caused Dahiya residents to address Hezbollah's security committee in the suburb, demanding its immediate intervention.AdvertisementA well-known social media activist opposing Hezbollah, the Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher, claimed that the network was headed by Hezbollah member, Ali Hussien Zeaiter. Zeaiter was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2014 for "helping Hezbollah to acquire UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)."According to Maher, a group of Hezbollah's deputies in the Lebanese Parliament helped the network's members to smuggle the women into Lebanon illegally. The Hezbollah-affiliated MPs also ordered senior Lebanese security officials to aid and protect the network's members, while in exchange, they received some of the network's profits. According to Maher, Hezbollah used this income to pay the expenses of its martyrs' families.
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