Lebanese gunman who took hostages at Beirut bank to get his own money dubbed ‘hero’

Beirut: A gunman who demanded that a Beirut bank allow him to withdraw his trapped life savings to pay his father’s medical bills held up to 10 people hostage in a seven-hour standoff before kidding himself in exchange for $35,000 ($49,000). US dollars) revealed by him, a family lawyer said money.

Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, a 42-year-old food delivery driver, was immediately arrested and taken away by police as he left the bank. Nobody was injured.

Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested as he left the bank.

Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested as he left the bank.Recognition:AP

Hussein’s wife, Mariam Chehadi, who stood outside, told reporters that her husband “did what he had to do.”

The hostage crisis in the city’s busy Hamra district was the latest painful episode in Lebanon’s economic free fall, now in its third year. The country’s cash-strapped banks have imposed strict limits on foreign currency withdrawals since 2019, tying up the savings of millions of people.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside during the standoff, chanting anti-Lebanese government and bank slogans and hoping the gunman would get his money. Some bystanders celebrated him as a hero.


Authorities said Hussein entered the bank with a shotgun and a jerry can, fired three warning shots and locked himself in with his hostages, threatening to set himself on fire if he was not allowed to take his money out.

Hussein had caught $210,000 in the Federal Bank and was struggling to withdraw his money to pay his father’s medical bills and other expenses, according to the family and others involved in the negotiations.

“My brother is not a villain. He’s a decent man. He takes what he has from his own pocket to give to others,” said Hussein’s brother Atef, who was standing in front of the bank, during the standoff. Lebanese gunman who took hostages at Beirut bank to get his own money dubbed ‘hero’

Joel McCord

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