Estonian Muslims urge release of abducted cyclists

Leaders of Estonia’s Muslim community have issued a joint plea to Lebanon and Syria aimed at securing the release of seven Estonian cyclists, who were kidnapped as they entered Lebanon coming from Syria last March.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Leaders of Estonia’s Muslim community have issued a joint plea to Lebanon and Syria aimed at securing the release of seven Estonian cyclists, who were kidnapped as they entered Lebanon coming from Syria last March.

In a joint letter outlining Estonia’s Islamic past, Timur Seifullen, chairman of the Estonian Islamic Council, Mufti Ildar Muhamedshin and Nijazi Gadhijev, chairman of the Azerbaijan Cultural Center of Estonia, appeal to the kidnappers to free the men and voice Estonia’s collective hope that a peaceful conclusion to the two-month saga can be reached.

“There is absolutely no justification for this atrocious act,” the letter says. “Each of the kidnapped Estonians has family, friends and acquaintances for whom every day of uncertainty must be incredibly difficult.”

No word has been heard from the alleged kidnappers – who took the seven tourists from their bicycles at gunpoint on the outskirts of Zahle in March – since a previously unknown group, Haraket al-Nadha Wal-Islah (Movement for Renewal and Reform) claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. However, the group is yet to issue demands and security officials say they are no closer to locating the missing men.

Four more individuals in connection with the crime have been arrested Sunday. Abdel-Rahman Majzoub, his son Wissam, Mohammad Yassin and Nazir Bassel were arrested Sunday morning near the eastern Bekaa town of Anjar and are thought to have information on the whereabouts of the seven Estonians. More than 10 other suspects have been arrested since security forces began investigating.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the latest developments regarding the case.

The Muslim leaders’ letter was pointedly addressed to both Lebanon and Syria, as preliminary reports following the abduction suggested that the kidnappers made off toward the Syrian border, although security services are unable to verify such claims.

“Once more we turn to you with our plea to do everything you can to free the Estonian tourists, since they are as close to all of us as your own family members are to you,” the letter said.

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