31 October 2005

Rana Koleilat Reportedly Detained by Interpol in Cairo

Rana Koleilat, the fugitive heroine of Al Madina Bank's $1.2 billion scandal, has been detained by Interpol in Cairo pending an extradition request from Lebanon's judicial authorities to haul her back to custody in Beirut, As Safir reported on Monday.
It quoted an unnamed senior Lebanese security official as saying Rana was arrested in the Egyptian capital by Interpol on Friday at an official Lebanese request submitted to the international police organization. The extradition request will be made within a few hours, As Safir said.

Five new arrest warrants were lately issued in Beirut for Rana's arrest for new lawsuits brought against her in connection with more bouncing Al Madina Bank checks. The shadowy Bank was reportedly tied by the Detlev Mehlis commission to Rafik Hariri's assassination.

Rana managed to flee Lebanon last March only 10 days after her release on a $20,000 bail from the Central Government Prison of Roumieh. Syria's former intelligence chief in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh reportedly helped her obtain a forged Lebanese passport identifying her as Fakhrieh Saeed Mhanna with which she crossed the border to Syria.

She stayed 10 days in Damascus and then traveled to Istanbul overland to catch a flight to Cairo, where she since lived incognito at the 7th floor apartment of Al Rayyan building in Al Ajouza neighborhood of the Egyptian capital.

Rana was often reported to have handled enormous financial transactions involving Gen. Ghazaleh when she was executive director of Al Madina Bank. Ghazaleh was chief of Syria's military intelligence in Lebanon since 2003 until April 16 this year, when Syria evacuated Lebanon and terminated 3 decades of tutelage that had been characterized as a reign of terror. -(naharnet)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.