Is Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, a Lebanese native who operates an ice cream truck in Dearborn, a war criminal?
Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press headed to Ireland for a detailed report on the whole ordeal.
Schaefer reports that folks in Dublin say Bazzi was responsible for the murder in 1980 of Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett, who were part of the Irish Defense Forces working for the United Nations peace keeping forces in Lebanon. A third Irish private, John O’Mahony, was shot twice but survived.
Schaefer writes that there are two eye witnesses linking him to the murders. Bazzi, through interpreters, denies it all.
Schaefer reports that on Tuesday, U.S. Homeland Security officers arrested Bazzi at his apartment in east Dearborn. He's due this week in federal court in Detroit where authorities plan to start the deportation process to send him to his native Lebanon.
Schaefer reports that Bazzi is being held on an immigration violation. He used someone else’s passport to enter the country 21 years ago, Schaefer reports. U.S. authorities won’t say whether he will face charges linked to the shootings.
But “the allegations of what happened in Lebanon factor heavily in our investigation and our efforts to remove him,” Khaalid Walls, spokesman for the Detroit office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Friday, according to Schaefer.
Folks in Dublin want Bazzi brought to justice for war crimes.
Reporting from Dublin, Schaefer writes:
They moved in lockstep, nearly 400 of them, to the rhythms of a drummer and a piper. They marched a half-mile through downtown streets in the Irish capital, on their way to the U.S. Embassy.
The straight-lined formation of former Irish soldiers, three abreast and capped with the blue berets of the United Nations peacekeeping forces, marched with purpose. On this day, July 5, they wanted the U.S. to finally, after 34 years, bring to justice the man they say murdered two of their comrades.
Schaefer reports that back in 1980, Bazzi held impromptu press conferences in front of cameras in Lebanon, saying he killed the peace keepers as revenge for his brother's death.
But today he says those statements were lies. He said the Christian militia made him say those things.
“They said you have to come to the TV, and say that you took it out as revenge for your brother,” Bazzi said. “They threatened me. If I don’t say this, they will kill me.”
-- Allan Lengel