DOVER — Friends and family of a restaurant owner being detained in Lebanon are hopeful that he will be released soon.
Amer Fakhoury, 56, allegedly commanded a military battalion that guarded a notorious detention camp in the 1980s and 1990s. He worked as a senior warden at the Khiam Prison in southern Lebanon, which was run by an Israeli-backed militia known as the South Lebanon Army, according to international reports that described him as “The Butcher of Khiam.”
Fakhoury and his family, who own Little Lebanon To Go, decided to visit his homeland during a family vacation earlier this month. When he arrived at the Rafic Hariri International Airport, he was detained.
On Thursday morning, Little Lebanon To Go posted on their Facebook page that Fakhoury has no crimes on his file and is being held illegally.
“He has absolutely no crimes on his file but false accusations were brought out against him,” the post says. “More information on this matter will be released once the situation is resolved. This case is currently being worked on and we pray for his safe return back home.”
The post was made on the day the family had scheduled the restaurant to re-open when they left for vacation. A new sign on the door Thursday read: “To our wonderful customers. We are expecting to open early to mid-October. Can’t wait to see all of you.”
In an article for The Arab Weekly, Makram Rabah, a history lecturer at the American University of Beirut, wrote that Fakhoury returned to Lebanon from exile in the United States after the statute of limitations ran out on the legal charges against him.
He says there are hundreds of other alleged Khiam Prison collaborators who have had their records expunged and returned to Lebanon to visit, or even settle down.
Rabah wrote that Fakhoury’s dual U.S. citizenship will allow him to safely return to America.
Many people who commented on Thursday’s Facebook post said they are keeping the family in their prayers.
There was no one at Little Lebanon To Go on Central Avenue in Dover on Thursday, but a sign on the door says, “Please pray for Amer to come home safe.”