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Lebanon's main prison a hotbed for terrorists

Roumieh Prison holds a variety of detainees, including terrorists and radical Islamists who pose a challenge to security in the lockup and in the country.
General view of Lebanon's Roumieh Central Prison overlooking Beirut, where riots erupted on April 7 and continue today April 8.  A prison warden and three inmates were slightly wounded in the revolt by prisoners demanding better conditions at Lebanon's largest jail which holds 3,000 inmates. - RTXIFDY
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A thousand stories revolve around Roumieh prison, the biggest detention center in Lebanon and the only one based on modern prison design when it opened, in 1970. Located in East Beirut, Roumieh consists of six buildings and is equipped to accommodate 1,500 prisoners, but currently holds more than 3,000. Former Justice Minister Chakib Qortbawi told Al-Monitor this figure has never been below 2,800.

Why is Roumieh associated with expressions like “time bomb,” “terrorist operation chamber” and “Islamist emirate,” which have been used by various Lebanese officials? Why is its name heard every time Lebanon experiences a security crisis, such as this month in relation to a proposed prisoner swap initiated by the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra and brokered by the Committee of Muslim Scholars, the most important Sunni scholars association in Lebanon. The battle of Arsal that erupted in early August 2014, leading to the death of 19 military personnel and the kidnapping of 35 others, was triggered by Islamist groups with prisoners in Roumieh who hope to force the goverment into agreeing to a prisoner swap.

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