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Robber Dubbed as a Hero During Bank Standoff

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Holding bank staff and hostages at gunpoint doesn’t normally seem like the makings of a hero’s origin story. In an unusual story, a Lebanese man made headlines for attempting to get the funds needed to pay his father’s medical bills.

Lebanon is experiencing a devastating financial crisis at the moment, with many unable to access their savings to make large purchases. Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein was hailed as a hero after entering a branch of the Federal Bank and taking the staff hostage in order to convince them to access his own savings.

The 41-year-old entered the Beirut bank armed with a rifle. Most clients were able to leave the building before the doors were shut but he did manage to trap six employees and one customer inside. It was reported that two gunshots were fired. Also, at one point, Hussein threatened to set himself on fire if his demands were not met.

A long seven hours after his original entry into the bank, Hussein was allowed to withdraw $35,000 of the $210,000 in his bank account, which he claimed was necessary to pay for his father’s hospital bills. In the end, the seven hostages were allowed to leave once his demands were met and no one was injured.

In 2019, the Lebanese Government implemented banking restrictions to prevent people from withdrawing large sums of money, leaving many stuck with large sums of money in their bank accounts only able to take out enough to meet basic needs.

After a seven-hour standoff, during which time Hussein could be heard shouting ‘they’re all liars,’ as he paced around the bank, he agreed to release all the hostages after being allowed to withdraw $35,000 from his savings account.

During the stand-off, a crowd formed outside of the Federal Bank branch to express their solidarity with Hussein. People could be heard chanting “down with the rule of banks” and showing their distaste for the government’s rules.

Despite being arrested for the crime, Judge Ghassan Khoury ordered the release of Hussein when the Federal Bank informed prosecutors that it wanted to withdraw its complaint against him. He could still be prosecuted since he will now be referred to an investigative judge.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/armed-man-demanding-frozen-deposits-takes-hostages-lebanese-commercial-bank-2022-08-11/

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