My money or your life: the bank robbers of Beirut

Wendell Steavenson in More Intelligent Life:

On August 11th an unemployed 42-year-old grabbed his shotgun and a large jerry can of petrol. Dressed in a T-shirt and flip-flops, Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein walked into a Beirut branch of the Federal Bank of Lebanon, intending to carry out a heist. As he entered, he slammed the heavy metal gate behind him with all his force. “It sounded like an explosion,” he told me. Inside the bank were seven or eight employees, two male customers and a woman who slumped to the floor at the sight of the armed man, begging to be spared. Hussein stopped her from banging her head and let her leave. “I was not rash,” he told me. “I was very calculated. I was calm.”

He sloshed petrol over the desks and an oily, pungent smell rose up. Employees complained it was suffocating them. Hussein grabbed the manager by the collar of his suit jacket and propelled him into a room at the rear. He jabbed the rifle into his back and told him to open the vault. The bank manager complied.

Inside were tall stacks of Lebanese pounds, as well as a small pile of dollars, amounting to around $3,500. The manager counted out four $100 bills.

“Are you fucking stupid or what?” said Hussein.

The manager offered him all the dollars.

“Call your bosses and tell them I want all of my $210,000 right now!”

More here.