A Lebanese man has been arrested after allegedly pretending he was going to behead three little refugee boys from Syria left in his care by their mother who went to work. One Lebanese media outlet reported that the 30-year-old man wanted to teach the boys a lesson after they had behaved in a way that risked their safety.
The entire episode – that Lebanese police have called a “sick joke” – was captured on video in which the boys are seen cowering and crying hysterically as the man brandishes a large knife and says he is going to behead them.
AFP reported that police also briefly detained the mother who reportedly said she had found the video which was subsequently posted to YouTube on Friday to be entertaining.
"Whom do we behead first?" the man asked the children, who quickly pointed at each other to avoid what in their minds would be the ultimate punishment.
During the cringe-worthy 98 second video, the children appear to be instructed to get on the ground in a position reminiscent of recent Islamic State beheading videos, then to get up and move closer to the man displaying the frightening knife.
“Put your hand here or else I will sever your head,” the man told one of the boys, according to Lebanon’s Naharnet.
“You, come here,” he instructed one of the boys. “Do you belong to Daesh [ISIS in Arabic]?”
Quoting a law enforcement statement, Lebanon’s Naharnet reported that the man, a 30-year-old who owns a bakery, told police that he decided to threaten the children “after he saw them trying to go down from their home's balcony on a public phone pole.”
He maintained that he wanted to frighten them to make sure they never do it again.
The pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon reported that this was the video of the incident:
"At the very end of the filming, the mother arrived from work and (said she) enjoyed the scene and asked (her neighbor) to send her the video,” an unnamed police official told AFP.
She was released after promising to treat her children better, AFP noted.
Lebanon in recent weeks has seen violence spillover from the Syria conflict, with Islamic extremists attacking a military border outpost and kidnapping Lebanese soldiers. Two of the soldiers have been beheaded.