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Lebanon’s ‘King of Romance’ Denies Jihadist Murders, Wants ‘Normal Life’ Back

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Fadel Shaker, a former pop singer who renounced his international fame to become a committed Sunni jihadist, appeared in a new interview on Lebanese television lamenting his turn to radical Islam and hoping to return to a “normal life.”

In an interview with Lebanon’s LBC TV, Shaker claimed that he wanted to return to a “normal, natural life” and that he had not committed any acts of violence. He appeared clean-shaven and in a suit, an image that contrasts highly with that of the bearded militant appearing in videos since 2013, claiming to have slaughtered Hezbollah “pigs.”

Shaker was accused of participating in a violent “street battle” between Sunni Islamists and the Lebanese army in 2013. He has been recorded on video as having admitted to his participating therein. Nonetheless, in his latest interview, Shaker denied being a part of the June 2013 battle in Sidon.

“I never participated at all in the battle… I never carried a weapon. Everybody knows that and the army knows it too,” he told LBC TV.

The interview (in Arabic) below:

Shaker has been a fugitive since the Sidon battle and has been sentenced to death by Lebanese courts in absentia. In addition, Shaker was charged with “inciting sectarian hatred and harming Lebanon’s ties with a friendly state via Facebook” in March, according to the Lebanese Daily Star. Shaker claimed in the LBC interview to not have possession of any official Facebook account.

According to a 2013 New York Times profile, Shaker was born and raised near Sidon to a Lebanese father and Palestinian mother. Former employees of Shaker’s told the Times that he was a moderate, though faithful, Muslim for most of his career, even selling alcohol in restaurants he owned before his pilgrimage to Mecca. Upon returning, his radicalization was swift.

“God willing, we’ll take what we deserve with our own hands, because there is no state, there are no judges, there is nothing,” Shaker said in a television interview before his disappearance.

The video in which a bearded Shaker admits to killing Hezbollah “pigs” and Lebanese soldiers continues to live online. “We killed two of your carcasses [sic], you dogs, you pigs… two carcasses and four injured pigs [sic],” he says in the video.

Before his radicalization, Shaker had acquired the nickname “King of Romance” for his easy listening Middle Eastern hits. As most of his songs engaged themes of romance, the music videos also included imagery typical of Western music videos and very likely haram for a militant Islamist:

Shaker is believed to be living in the Palestinian refugee camp near his birthplace.


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