By MAAYAN GROISMAN
Photo by: REUTERS
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.
A 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
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.