Minister Nahhas: ISF 400 Members Mount ‘Coup’ against State Authority
Some 500 members of the Information Branch of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF) Thursday prevented caretaker Telecoms Minister Charbel Nahhas and two managers accompanying him from entering sealed-off rooms in Beirut's former Telecommunications Ministry headquarters, a security source said. According to sources, the ISF took over the second floor of the ministry office in the Adliyeh region. The floor contains equipment related to a third sealed telecoms network operating illegally.
Telecoms ministry sources told Al Intiqad that minister Nahhas discovered phone calls outside the framework of the state and was heading toward an office attached to the ministry to dismantle the network. Upon arrival, the source said, Nahhas was surprised to see 500 members of the ISF surrounding the building.
Also, the sources said that "As Minister Nahhas was in the elevator of the building, one of the ISF officers opened the door and told him that he has orders from Major Ashraf Rifi to ban Nahhas from entering the 2nd floor.
In his turn, Minister Nahhas answered "I am the Telecoms Minister and I this building belongs to the ministry," but the officer insisted that Nahhas is not allowed to enter.
Moreover, Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas held a press conference Thursday noon in which he tackled the issue. He said that Internal Security Forces (ISF) Information Branch personnel have occupied the building owned by the Telecommunications Ministry in the Adliyeh area of Beirut and are mounting a "coup" against the state's authority.
In the press conference, Nahhas said that ISF personnel had taken over the second floor of the building and prevented his ministry's technical teams from performing routine maintenance work.
Interior Minister Ziad Baroud was not aware of the situation and, once notified by the telecommunications minister, issued an order requiring the personnel to leave the building, Nahhas said.
He said that he visited the building on Thursday morning and encountered "400 armed personnel, military and civilian, with their weapons ready" when he tried to go up to the second floor.
He stated that these units have not left the building and are therefore rebelling against the state, stating that the ISF Directorate-General of defying the Interior Ministry's orders.