Radical Cleric Arrested In Lebanon After Shootout, Government Says


A radical Islamist cleric in Lebanon facing a life sentence on charges of aiding an al Qaeda affiliate has been arrested following a shootout in the northern city of Tripoli, the country's state news agency reported Sunday.

Omar Bakri Mohammed was convicted in absentia by a military court Friday of charges including membership in an armed group, posession of weapons and explosives and committing crimes against the state, Lebanon's National News Agency reported. He was given a life sentence, which he told CNN on Friday had come as a ""shock and surprise.""

The news agency reported Sunday that Bakri was taken into custody after a gun battle in Tripoli, but there were no injuries in the shootout.

""Paper formalities were being finalized to hand him over to the Military Tribunal in Beirut,"" the agency reported.

Bakri said Friday he was not planning to go into hiding and would continue speaking out. Asked what he would do if police were to try to arrest him, he said, ""Let it be.""

No details of the charges have been released by the government, and the military court does not respond to questions from news outlets. But Bakri denied the accusations on Friday, describing them as an attempt to ""suppress the voice of Islam."""