Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Five Czechs kidnapped by Lebanese government, freed

Czech justice chose to befriend Lebanon, piss on the U.S.

In July 2015, five Czechs were kidnapped in Lebanon. With some help of Google Translate, I quickly decoded their identities. When a bug/typo is fixed, it was attorney Jan Švarc, translator Adam Homsi (the only exotic name among the five), regional (South Bohemian) TV makers/hosts Miroslav Dobeš and Pavel Kofroň, and military reporter Martin Psík whose name I first misindentified as Merlin Pešek etc. Mr Psík was arguably the main "ace" that was believed to be most valuable for the Czech government.

From the first minutes, it looked obvious that the people were closely linked to Ali Fayyad, a Lebanese-Ukrainian dual citizen who is wanted in the U.S. for his alleged collaboration with the Colombian drug mafia (along with two other men – one of them is half-Lebanese, too). Švarc was Fayyad's attorney, Homsi was a translator during the trials, and so on. Strange.

Note that the Lebanese were only "shown to be willing to sell weapons" to Colombian criminals – but the "Colombians" were actually U.S. agents. This greatly reduces the "degree of crime" (the crimes related to weapons sales) that Fayyad etc. committed in my eyes.

Some doubtful reports notwithstanding, we were gradually assured that the kidnapping had something to do with Fayyad and those who kidnapped the Czechs want Fayyad to be freed – so that the five Czech citizens may be freed, too. As recently as yesterday, we heard about a letter sent from Lebanon that was very likely coming from the kidnappers, indeed. They knew quite some details about the health problems of some of the Czech men etc. Because some of the Czech men seem "too close" to Fayyad, I conjectured – and I still tend to believe – that the five kidnapped Czechs (or at least some of them) were actually willful players in the plot.

This already sounds as a conspiracy from a C movie but things got even juicier some 12 hours ago when the five Czech men were miraculously found by the Lebanese enforcement forces. Google News. At the same moment, it was announced that the justice minister Robert Pelikán won't extradite Fayyad to the U.S., after all, despite Fayyad's loss in the Czech courts. Some Lebanese sources assured us that there was no coincidence, indeed. The Lebanese government knew about the details and therefore implicitly endorsed and perhaps co-organized the kidnapping of the Czech men! ;-) This is what I call a genuine protection of the citizen by his government.

You may see how the clever guys in Lebanon (and Czechia) are solving problems. They don't like the arrest of a guy, Mr Ali Fayyad in this case, so everyone agrees to stage the kidnapping of five Czech men, many of whom probably agree with the plot because they're friends of Fayyad themselves, and the kidnapped Czech men are simply exchanged for the Lebanese one.

Now, I have no hard evidence or detailed knowledge but I would bet that Mr Ali Fayyad probably has done the crimes he's accused of – if he hasn't, something is really wrong about justice and intelligence in the U.S. On the other hand, I don't really understand why the U.S. should be playing this prominent role when it comes to the criminal activity of a Lebanese-Ukrainian citizen doing business with the Columbians and randomly caught in Czechia.

If you appreciate that the five Czech men were at risk, I think that it makes sense for the Czech government to defend these five citizens (also because five is greater than one). If the Americans dream about having Mr Ali Fayyad, they will have to catch him themselves. From our viewpoint, the main problem is solved and our government will happily preserve OK relationships with Lebanon. Obviously, the last thing that minister Pelikán needs to do is to wish Mr Fayyad good luck in his future business in Columbia. ;-)

The story is bizarre on many fronts and there are many ethical and cultural considerations and lessons. One of them is that countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere) probably routinely team up with criminals. Another lesson is that sometimes, it simply makes sense to admit that such governments have a certain power or "point" in a generalized sense even if their behavior isn't legal.

The justice minister, Robert Pelikán, has a brother, Arabist Petr Pelikán. He knows the languages of the Middle East and has studied Islam etc. It's being said that he's a practicing Muslim himself. On the other hand, I repeatedly saw Petr Pelikán on TV and I was amazingly impressed. First, he was against the migration and had very sensible arguments. Second, I was stunned by his perfect, literary Czech. This is a guy whose skills in the humanities seem nontrivial and worth respect – a natural scholar in the humanities. At any rate, it's speculated that Dr Petr Pelikán will make it more likely for the justice minister to cooperate with Lebanon rather than the U.S.

And incidentally, Dr Petr Pelikán's 3-hour discussion with Dr Martin Konvička, the chairman of the Bloc Against Islam (whose mother is Greek-born), was very intelligent and incredibly peaceful (and they agree about a much broader set of profound issues than you could imagine). As far as I know, you cannot find equally deep, long, and intelligent discussions about the character of Islam and its co-existence with the rest of the world in English.


On February 4th, the 5 Czechs are at home and the Lebanese guy has been released. As I expected, the U.S. government reacted hysterically (officially it was a reaction by the U.S. embassy but I don't really buy it they invented the hysteria themselves). This guy was planning murders, they say. Excellent. It seems obvious that they're eager to sacrifice five Czech lives just to catch someone who was planning murders. Sorry but thankfully, the Czech government cares about the actual lives of our citizens more than it cares about plans and a punishment for plans.

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