Lebanese Army Investigates Illegal Weapons Found Onboard Syria-Bound Ship

Published Apr 30, 2012 1:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday the Lebanese Army summoned several individuals for questioning over the Syria-bound ship that was allegedly carrying illegal arms. The cargo ship, LETFALLAH II, was seized by Lebanese officials on Saturday in the Mediterranean. The eleven member crew is being interrogated as well as several others believed to be in connection with the illegal arms.

The ship’s cargo manifest listed metal goods, and made no mention of weapons. Investigators have learned that the ship had planned to stop in Tripoli before heading to Syria.

In a statement the Lebanese army says "three containers containing a large quantity of weapons in addition to light, medium and heavy ammunition as well as different military equipment" were found onboard. Rocket propelled grenades and high caliber ammunition were among the weapons found inside crates with Libyan markings. One crate is marked “Misrata”, the former base town for Muammar Gaddafi and another has “Tripoli/Benghazi SPLAJ” marked on it.

The 2500 ton Sierra Leone-flagged LETFALLAH II has been impounded and it as well as its 11 crew members have been placed in custody at a navy port in Beirut.

Tripoli has seen many demonstrations in support of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and officials believe it is likely that arms are being smuggled to anti-Assad rebels.

Last month, Russia accused Libya of arming and training Syrian rebels. In response to these accusations, Libya’s Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib, said that he is not aware of arming or training camps but does acknowledge Libya’s strong support of the uprising in Syria.

The LETFALLAH II is owned by Honduras based Khafaji Shipping Co. and is operated by Syrian based ISM Group Ltd.

Also over the weekend, former Libyan prime minister, Shorki Ghanem was found dead in Vienna. His body was discovered in the Danube River. Officials say there are no signs of trauma and a full autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death. Ghanem, who was educated in the US, was a major influence for reform in his country.