Ahmad Assir appears before military court on \'terror\' charges

Friday 11/09/2015
Assir was captured after more than two years on the run

BEIRUT - An Islamist cleric who was once Lebanon's best-known fugitive appeared before a military court on Tuesday for the first time since his capture.

Ahmad al-Assir is accused of "terrorism" for his involvement in deadly clashes with the army in 2013 in the southern city of Sidon.

He appeared before the court briefly and spoke only to confirm his name.

The court set a next session in the proceedings for October 20.

Assir was captured on August 15 after more than two years on the run as he attempted to flee via Beirut airport using a fake passport and in disguise.

He is accused of "having formed an armed group with the goal of committing acts of terrorism and having killed and tried to kill Lebanese soldiers."

He also faces allegations of planning to assassinate political figures.

The charges carry a potential death sentence.

Assir was virtually unknown before the outbreak of Syria's civil war in 2011, but made headlines with fiery sermons against President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

In June 2013, his supporters in Sidon opened fire on a military checkpoint, sparking clashes with the army that killed 18 soldiers and 13 militants.

Assir escaped after the clashes, and had been on the run until his capture.

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