The release of Kassim Tajeddine, the Lebanese businessman, prematurely from US custody is still raising questions especially since he was heavily involved in financing Hezbollah. The timing of his release raised many eyebrows as it coincided with the repatriation of Amer Fakhouri, a Lebanese and United States citizen who served the Israeli army over 20 years ago.
A Sign of What’s to Come
While the official statement released declares that the release of Tajeddine was a result of the precautionary measures taken due outbreak of the coronavirus, other information point to a deal struck between the US and Iranian administrations. Three senior middle east officials told Reuters that the release of Tajeddine came as a result of indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington. Moreover, they expect that several more high-profile releases to take place.
Tajeddine was released from prison on June 11th of this year, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He arrived in Lebanon last week and is said to currently be in Iran conducting business meetings with Iranian officials. Sources added that his release followed the same path that led to the release of Nizar Zakka, the Lebanese businessman and permanent US resident, from Iran and Sam Goodwin, a US citizen, from Syria.
A spokesman from the State Department of the United States of America told Reuters that Tajeddine was released due to Covid-19 health concerns, and that the reports that paint it as a political deal are inaccurate. Shibly Mlat, Tajeddine’s lawyer also denied that the release had anything to do with the other prisoners in Lebanon, Syria, or Iran. “It was purely a judicial process” he said. The release of Tajeddine was ordered by a judge on May 27th, and he was quarantined a further 14 days as suggested by his attorneys who argued for his release in fear of the virus. Tajeddine was held in Maryland.
“The reasons for his release are classified under US Law”
Sources including a ranking official in the middle east and a Lebanese regional diplomate said that the release came as a result of “indirect understanding” between Tehran and Washington, and that this release is only a sign of what’s to come soon on a wider scale. “There are still those waiting to be released on both sides as this plan unfolds.” The Lebanese diplomat stated that this deal could potentially include 20 other people, “ All concerned parties are testing the extents of their trust towards one another.”
Two of the sources stated that Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the head of the Lebanese General Security, is the main mediator between the parties of this deal. The General Security declined to comment on the matter.
One major Lebanese official stated that the operation is still ongoing secretly. It began with the release of Goodwin and other foreigners detained by the Syrian government who is allied with Iran and Hezbollah.