Horrific murder of mother, three daughters shakes Lebanon

Horrific murder of mother, three daughters shakes Lebanon
The community of Ansar has been rocked by the killings, which have led to an outpouring of grief nationwide.
3 min read
26 March, 2022
Investigations into the events surrounding the murders remain ongoing [Getty]

The bodies of a Lebanese mother and her three daughters have been discovered by Lebanese security services in south Lebanon on Friday after it emerged that the four women were reported as missing for 25 days.

The remains of Basma Abbas and her three daughters, Tala, 20, Rima, 22, and Manal, 16, were found in an orchard between the southern towns of Ansar and al-Zararia.

A Lebanese citizen, who was arrested earlier this week, had reportedly confessed to killing the women and revealed the whereabouts of their bodies after they went missing without a trace on 2 March.

The suspect, identified as Hussein Fayyad, admitted to the murders during two days of interrogation by the local intelligence services - and gave up the identity of a Syrian citizen who he claimed was an accomplice to the crime.

While investigations into the events surrounding the murders remain ongoing, details have emerged from the local community and statements by security services.

According to the army, the suspect took the mother and her three girls into a cave on the outskirts of Ansar, where they were shot dead.

"After the suspect revealed the location to us, a patrol and a forensics team were sent immediately to the crime scene," said the army's statement.

"When the bodies were discovered, they were immediately taken to a local hospital for autopsy and post-mortem," the statement added.

The forensics team at the scene was accompanied by coroner Ali Deeb - who will be charged with identifying the cause of death, which remains unclear.

"The family informed security services about the womens’ disappearance over a fortnight ago," a source close to the family told The New Arab's Arabic language edition al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"They were last seen by a young man [Fayyad] who knows the family well, and was interrogated after their disappearance but released due to lack of evidence shortly after," said the source.

"They had no reason to flee, and as fears mounted for their safety, the family requested security services intensify their search," it said.

"The young man originally released was then re-arrested, after his movements became suspicious and he attempted to flee," it added.

"Investigations are still ongoing to see if he had further accomplices, and to try and understand his motives for the murders… There are many bogus theories circulating on social media, all of them unfounded," the source added.

Some reports circulating online suggested that the women's organs were "harvested and sold", while others unveiled personal information about the victims' lives, blaming the mother for the crime since she was a "divorced woman". Some local clerics went as far as to suggest that the crime was a result of "familial disintegration". 

Meanwhile, the family of the suspect disavowed him in a statement released on local news site Ansar News, calling for "the most stringent punishment possible".

Some residents called for Fayyad to be executed - while others have been sharing their grief and rage online, denouncing the wider threats faced by Lebanese women throughout society, and calling for legal reform to better protect women at risk of abuse.

The shocking incident came just days after a ruling was issued in the case of Rola Yacoub, a Lebanese woman who was beaten to death by her husband nine years ago. He was eventually sentenced on 23 March to five years in prison.