People are hailing a Lebanese man as a national hero after he robbed a Beirut bank to withdraw his own money.
Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein desperately wanted money to pay for his father’s medical bills. He entered the bank holding a shotgun and a gas canister, threatening the staff that he would light himself on fire if they didn’t allow him to access the $210,000 stored in his bank account.
Inside the bank, Hussein held up to 10 people, including staff and customers hostage, in the 7-hour stand-off before he ultimately surrendered himself in exchange for withdrawing some share his own money.
Hussein is a 42-year-old food-delivery driver. Reportedly, he even fired a couple of warning shots inside the bank, but nobody was injured. Defending her husband, Hussein’s wife, Mariam Chehadi, was reported saying that Hussein “did what he had to do.”
For the unversed, Lebanon has been in a deep liquidity crisis since the man-made financial collapse in August 2019. Citizens of Lebanon have lost access to their own money stored in the bank with restrictions on the withdrawal amount.
Apparently, the poverty in Lebanon is multi-dimensional with almost 3 quarters of population living in poverty.
Hussein’s siege triggered protests outside the Beirut bank, with people calling out the dire state of affairs.
Only in #Lebanon: People head to protest in front of a local bank where a depositor is holding other people and bank employees hostages while demanding his money, because banks in Lebanon stope our money and now dictate how much we take our per week/month. https://t.co/LExfGav14p— Luna Safwan – لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) August 11, 2022
The video of the hostage situation has also surfaced online.
Most Lebanese have lost access to their bank deposits/retirement pensions following the crisis in 2019, while many in political elite sent their capital outside country.— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 11, 2022
This, happening at Bank Beirut, is yet another indication of how explosive the economic situation has become
Here’s how Twitter reacted to it.
Well done your Money , they just print and stole. G-d bless you and yours.— DLCrypto (@DLCrypto1) August 13, 2022
it took this for the guy to get 30k out of the 210k that he had at the bank. so the bank gave him 1/7th of his own money only at gunpoint and after 7h of negotiations. https://t.co/oImQZHej6w— The Emperor is Naked 🇷🇴 fren of frens (@Alex001002) August 12, 2022
Incredible seeing the people show support. Our money has been basically stolen by the banks, my parent’s entire life savings. Right as they retired. While the banks allowed the corrupt rich politicians to move all their fortunes, and blocked the people’s money. Send it 🔥— Rob (@thegallowboob) August 12, 2022
Subhanallah, citizens of Lebanon are struggling so much every day due to systemic failures of leadership in the country. The situation there isn’t a natural disaster, but it is no less devastating. Just look at the desperation of this man who just wants to take care of his dad! https://t.co/TbgfYUJbZC— Dr Asim Qureshi (@AsimCP) August 11, 2022
This thread is absolutely insane, and it’s a microcosm of what’s happening in Lebanon, where millions lost access to their bank savings that were emptied out by the country’s elite. https://t.co/pXgSmfNLJd— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 12, 2022
Now people have to “rob” banks for their own money… https://t.co/tRnPtkEepH— ZombieDonkeyPox (@meatNeggs) August 12, 2022
Seems to me the real hostage taker here is the bank https://t.co/BniPNHeaKK— Nuance Bro (@NuanceBro) August 12, 2022
Dina Abou Zor, a lawyer with the advocacy group Depositors’ Union, representing Hussein’s family, was present amid the crowd of protestors outside the bank.
What led us to this situation is the state’s failure to resolve this economic crisis and the banks’ and Central Bank’s actions, where people can only retrieve some of their own money as if it’s a weekly allowance. And this has led to people taking matters into their own hands.
-Dina Abou Zor