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Kidnapping is big business in Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ibrahim’s relatives are rich and powerful. But the young Lebanese taxi driver was reluctant to go into the family business when he found himself struggling to make ends meet. His family is one of the country’s largest Shiite clans, and their business is kidnapping.

"Of course I don't want to do this," Ibrahim said of his new part-time job driving for his cousins, both professional kidnappers. "But [the victims] are never harmed and I have to feed my family."

Kidnapping for ransom is one of the few forms of economic activity to flourish here as the civil war in neighboring Syriacripples the tourism industry and erodes the authority of the state.

Last week a 12-year-old boy became the latest victim.

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