(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Former Lebanese pop star turned Islamist militant Fadel Shaker said he wants to return to his “normal, natural life” in an interview with Beirut-based LBC-TV.
Shaker is wanted on charges of committing crimes against the Lebanese Army, after fleeing street battles in Sidon between Sunni Muslim militants and the army in June 2013. The battles killed over 50 people and 17 soldiers, according to Al-Arabiya.
If convicted, Shaker could face the death penalty. But Shaker denies all charges, claiming he never advocated for any radical battles against any member of the army.
“I never participated at all in the battle,” he said. “I never carried a weapon. Everybody knows that and the army knows it too.”
Shaker’s lawyer May Khansa said Fadel planned to turn himself in “in the coming days.” Al-Akhbar reports that this may result in a lighter sentence for the former singer.
In 2013, Shaker was allegedly recorded taunting the Lebanese Army, saying “we have two rotting corpses that we snatched from you yesterday.” He has also appeared in videos calling his enemies “pigs and dogs,” according to ABC News.
But he told LBC he had a change of heart — even saying he hoped the Lebanese soldiers captured by the Islamic State and Nusra Front would be freed.
Shaker became a popular pop star in the Middle East in 2002 after a duet with Arab singer Nawal topped the charts in the Arab world. The singer fell under the influence of Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Assir in 2013 after saying he was quitting his career as a singer to “become closer to God.”
He denies asking his fans to stop listening to his music, and adds that he did not have an official Facebook page or Twitter account.
Shaker appeared clean-shaven and in a black suit in the LBC interview, which was filmed in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilwe Palestinian refugee camp, according to the TV station.
Shaker says he grew up in the Ain al-Hilwe camp to a Lebanese father and Palestinian mother. He once said he was proud to be Palestinian, and asked Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to grant him citizenship.
WATCH the LBC Report: