A Lebanese Christian family is devastated after discovering their son was among those named as one of the jihadists arrested for planning suicide bomb attacks.
Last Thursday, the Lebanese army announced that it had foiled "a plan to implement a series of suicide attacks." Three men were arrested in connection to the attempted terrorist plot, including Elie Warraq, 22, who used the alias Abu Ali.
Elie's parents, who raised their children in a Christian home, were completely unaware of their son's change in religious beliefs and affiliation with Islamic extremism.
"We were so shocked when we heard the news, I haven't slept since. It's my son!" Elie's father, Tony Warraq, said in an interview with AFP.
According to a statement released from the army, the terrorist group were planning a series of attacks on army posts and residential areas.
"The investigation found they had pledged allegiance to terrorist organizations and participated in fighting in Syria and attacks against the army," the report stated.
The Warraq parents also strongly support the Lebanese army--which their 20 year old son, Michael, recently joined, making Elie's arrest even more horrifying for his family.
"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Tony Warraq said, "Whenever I see on television that people are blowing up churches and mosques in Iraq and Syria, I wonder 'How could a human do such a thing?'
"But to hear your son is in the same category is very difficult. Am I hallucinating? I still can't believe it."
According to the AFP, Elie's arrest is the first known case in Lebanon in which a Christian has converted to Islam and joined a jihadist group.
Although Elie, who was described as an "introvert who didn't drink or smoke" had begun spending long periods away from home 18 months prior to his arrest, his family said they had not suspected anything, as their son would still attend church services on special occasions.
However, a security source told AFP that Elie had visited Turkey twice, and is believed to have crossed into Syria, where Islamic State fighters are believed to be training new recruits. Security services began monitoring him late last year on suspicion that he was transferring arms within Lebanon, passing more easily through checkpoints because he was registered as Christian.
Last week's arrests were made shortly after a double suicide bomb attack on a Lebanese café on January 10 by Al Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked group, in which nine people were killed.