A crisis is looming in security circles after two Lebanese nationals went missing in Uganda, raising concerns about their safety.
Ali Hussein Yassin and Hussein Mahmoud Yassin were picked from Entebbe International Airport on Sunday by state operatives.
According to high placed officials briefed about the development, Ali was traveling to Lebanon via Ethiopia and Tanzania when he was intercepted at Entebbe Airport.
Ali, who runs LDC Construction, a private company dealing in concrete materials, was told that he would not proceed to Lebanon using his passport.
“The officers told Ali he could not travel with the new East African passport to Lebanon,” recalled a family friend who spoke to ChimpReports on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
Ali, who is said to have dual citizenship, asked his colleague Mahmoud to pick his (Ali) Lebanese passport.
Mahmoud rushed to the airport as requested by Ali. However, even after submitting the Lebanese passport, officers at the airport told Ali he could not travel.
The duo communicated to their relatives that they were returning to Kampala as Ali’s planned travel had been blocked.
“That was the last communication we got from them,” recalled the relative.
Ali was traveling for the burial of a close relative in Lebanon.
ChimpReports understands Ali and Mahmoud disappeared mysteriously at the airport.
As of Wednesday night, reports indicated that the two Lebanese had been picked by Internal Security Organisation (ISO) operatives at the airport.
Contacted for comment, ISO boss Brigadier Kaka Bagyenda did not respond. His phone went off after we had introduced ourselves.
It is suspected the Lebanese are being held in an ungazatted premises run by ISO.
Cases of ISO agents kidnapping and holding people incommunicado have been on the rise in recent years.
Journalists Stanley Ndawula and Charles Etukuri and wealthy businessman Simpson Birungi were kidnapped by ISO and held in ‘safe’ houses without trial.
On February 23, 2018, Nganga Bibiche Bola, a Congolese businesswoman went missing from Lower Konge, in Makindye Division. Police later told the media that Nganga was in the hands of ISO.
“She claims that she was kidnapped by unknown people dressed in military fatigue with assault rifles and was in detention since then up till,” police said in a statement on February 28, 2018.
Contacted to speak on claims that the Lebanese were reportedly taken by ISO operatives, Defence Spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire said: “That matter is not in the realm of UPDF which I speak for.”
It is understood Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odong has been briefed about the incident.
His mobile phone was unreachable when we contacted him on Thursday morning.
The concerned family members suspect ISO operatives want to ‘quietly deport’ the Lebanese.
But this would require informing the Internal Affairs Ministry.
Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act provides that the Minister may, in writing signed by him or her, order any prohibited immigrant or person whose presence in Uganda is unlawful to be deported out of Uganda, either indefinitely or for such period of time as may be specified in the order.
The family said if the Lebanese have cases against them, they should be brought to courts of law for prosecution.
“If the state believes crimes were committed by Ali and Mahmoud, then take them to court. We don’t know where they are. How do we now provide them legal representation? Are they alive? Did rogue security people try to extort money from them? If this was a passport issue, why hold them incommunicado?” wondered a tearful relative.
Both Ali and Mahmoud are known successful businessmen operating not only in Uganda but East African region.