Kidnapped Turkish Pilots Video Shown on Lebanon TV

Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013 10:12 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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A Lebanese broadcaster has released video footage showing two Turkish pilots kidnapped in Beirut two months ago, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.
 
In a short video, pilots Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca, said they are in good health.

"My name is Murat Akpınar. Today is Oct. 14, 2013. There is only one day left until the bayram [Eid al-Adha]. I would like to be at my home. I'm fine," he said in English.

"I really miss my family, my children and my country," Ağca said. He later read a verse from the Koran.

The pilots were kidnapped on Aug. 9 in a majority Shiite area of Beirut that is dominated by the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah, a close ally of President Bashar Assad and a bitter foe of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is backing Syrian opposition efforts to drive Assad from power.

A group of at least six armed men intercepted a bus transporting Turkish Airlines personnel from the airport to central Beirut, the New York Times reported Aug. 9. They ordered Akpinar and Agca off the bus and left the other members of the Turkish crew behind.

A previously unknown Lebanese group calling itself the Zuwwar Imam al-Rida claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The group wants Turkey to use its influence with Syrian rebels to win the release of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped last year.

Supporters of the pilgrims have made little effort to conceal their backing for the Beirut kidnappings. Sheik Abbas Zugheib, a Lebanese Shiite cleric aiding the pilgrims’ families, said in August that they had nothing to do with the pilots’ abductions.

He told The Times, however, that “If we were notified, we would have encouraged it without equivocation,” adding that “we call on everyone to stand by the party that carried out this operation.”
 
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