A Lebanese national living in Dearborn and selling ice cream from a truck to earn a living has been accused of killing two Irish soldiers in 1980 and was arrested Tuesday on immigration charges.
Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, is expeced to be deported, the Detroit Free Press reports, but it’s unclear where he will be sent. Bazzi was arrested without incident about 10:30 a.m. on the immigration charge, which stems from his alleged entry to the United States on a false passport 21 years ago.
Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the Detroit Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to say if Bazzi will be charged with the alleged torture killings in Lebanon of two Irish soldiers who were part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission near the border with Israel.
Two of the soldiers – Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett – were killed on April 18, 1980, and a third, John O’Mahony, survived his injuries.
Bazzi’s arrest comes amid pressure on Congress and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by the slain soldiers’ family and friends, who for years have questioned why he was allowed to live in the United States. He reportedly killed the soldiers as an act of revenge after they reportedly killed his younger brother in a skirmish near the border.
In recent interviews with the Free Press, Bazzi denied shooting the soldiers. However, in 1980, he claimed responsibility on a Lebanese television station and said it was in retaliation for his brother’s death. He claimed in the recent interviews that he did so under pressure.