BEIRUT — A leading Lebanese security official said Saturday he visited Syria for two weeks to talk with officials about American journalist Austin Tice, that has been missing from the war-torn nation since 2012.
Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim didn’t provide additional details in an interview with the native Al-Jadeed tv station, but his remarks came two weeks following his return in Washington where he’s thought to have discussed Tice’s situation with U.S. officials.
“Following my trip to Washington, I went to Syria for fourteen days and talks within this issue are ongoing and will continue,” Ibrahim said, speaking to Tice’s disappearance.
A movie released a month later revealed him held by armed men. He hasn’t been heard from since.
Ibrahim’s comments came as the daily Al-Akhbar reported Saturday the U.S. Congress could impose sanctions on him under a new bill being contemplated. Ibrahim in the past few years has helped to ease the launch of a U.S. citizen held in Syria, along with a Lebanese-American who had been held in Iran.
The U.S. has enforced sanctions lately on Lebanese politicians such as allies of the militant Hezbollah group. Washington has recorded Hezbollah as a terrorist organization since 1997 and sees that the team is a proxy for its archenemy Iran from the area.
Ibrahim stated that U.S. sanctions would not prevent him from working on Tice’s case.
“I have assured Austin Tice’s mum whom I met at Washington and talk to her by phone daily which neither sanctions nor anything else can influence function within the event of her son,” he added.
In late October, Trump government officials stated that Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, created an odd, covert trip to Syria for high tech discussions aimed at securing the release of Tice and U.S. taxpayer Majd Kamalmaz, a 62-year-old clinical psychologist from Virginia, that vanished in 2017 and is thought to be held at a Syrian authorities prison.
The Syrian government hasn’t publicly acknowledged knowing anything about his whereabouts.
He did not state why officials think this or who may be holding him.