Explosive allegations in Hariri case; it was Hezb'allah

Rick Moran
The case involving the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harriri took a spectacular turn over the weekend when the German magazine Der Spiegel released the news that the Special Tribunal set up to investigate the assassination (and other political murders in Lebanon) has found smoking gun evidence that connects the Lebanese political party/terrorist group Hezb'allah directly to the murder.

The Tribunal will not release the information for fear that it would set off sectarian violence in Lebanon as well as influence the parliamentary elections next month - something the 11 man tribunal does not want to do.

If true - and the evidence seems rock solid - it may overturn the appelcart in Lebanon, slow Hezb'allah's drive for control of parliament, and perhaps even drive Hezb'allah's Christian allies in the Free Patriotic Movement away from them.

Der Spiegle's Erich Follath has the shocking details:

According to the detailed information provided by the SPIEGEL source, the fact that the case may have been "cracked" is the result of a mixture of serendipity à la Sherlock Holmes and the state-of-the-art technology used by cyber detectives. In months of painstaking work, a secretly operating special unit of the Lebanese security forces, headed by intelligence expert Captain Wissam Eid, filtered out the numbers of mobile phones that could be pinpointed to the area surrounding Hariri on the days leading up to the attack and on the date of the murder itself. The investigators referred to these mobile phones as the "first circle of hell."

Captain Eid's team eventually identified eight mobile phones, all of which had been purchased on the same day in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. They were activated six weeks before the assassination, and they were used exclusively for communication among their users and -- with the exception of one case -- were no longer used after the attack. They were apparently tools of the hit team that carried out the terrorist attack.

But there was also a "second circle of hell," a network of about 20 mobile phones that were identified as being in proximity to the first eight phones noticeably often. According to the Lebanese security forces, all of the numbers involved apparently belong to the "operational arm" of Hezbollah, which maintains a militia in Lebanon that is more powerful than the regular Lebanese army.

Eid was later assassinated for getting too close to the truth (similiar evidence emerged connecting Hezb'allah to that murder as well). And a Hezb'allah operative who appears to be responsible for giving away the group's involvement by using one of the cell phones to call his girlfriend has disappeared - likely dead.

The news is already stirring up a hornet's nest in Lebanon with Hezb'allah leader Hassan Nasrallah issuing a warning (via Naharnet ):

"The report in Der Spiegel is very, very, very dangerous," Nasrallah said in comments transmitted via video link to thousands of supporters massed in the southern suburbs.

"I consider the report in Der Spiegel an Israeli accusation that Hizbullah killed the martyr Rafik Hariri and we will deal with this claim as such," he said in a speech marking the ninth anniversary of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.

He warned that the report was "more dangerous than Ain el-Rummaneh bus attack" which [was responsible for starting] the Lebanese 15-year civil war.

"This is why we have to deal with it responsibly because it is an agenda to stir strife," he said.

"Israel has issued its verdict in the Hariri case," he said.

Clearly, if Nasrallah can convince his followers of Sunni duplicity, it may lead to more violent clashes between Shia and Sunni forces who are already engaged in occasional attacks in the north around Tripoli.

Recognizing this danger, the old Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt (who has switched sides so many times in the last 30 years people have lost count) condemned the Spiegel article which drew praise from Nasrallah for Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party. Jumblatt has been very hard on Hezb'allah in the past but will, for the moment, play the statesman in order to keep the peace.

This new evidence does not necessarily let President Assad of Syria off the hook. It seems clear that some Lebanese loyal to Syria were involved in the assassination and the question of how high the conspiracy went needs clarification.

So far, the Tribunal is working as advertised - except for playing things close to the chest. Now that the information is out in the open, it may release what it has and let the chips fall where they may.
















The case involving the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harriri took a spectacular turn over the weekend when the German magazine Der Spiegel released the news that the Special Tribunal set up to investigate the assassination (and other political murders in Lebanon) has found smoking gun evidence that connects the Lebanese political party/terrorist group Hezb'allah directly to the murder.

The Tribunal will not release the information for fear that it would set off sectarian violence in Lebanon as well as influence the parliamentary elections next month - something the 11 man tribunal does not want to do.

If true - and the evidence seems rock solid - it may overturn the appelcart in Lebanon, slow Hezb'allah's drive for control of parliament, and perhaps even drive Hezb'allah's Christian allies in the Free Patriotic Movement away from them.

Der Spiegle's Erich Follath has the shocking details:

According to the detailed information provided by the SPIEGEL source, the fact that the case may have been "cracked" is the result of a mixture of serendipity à la Sherlock Holmes and the state-of-the-art technology used by cyber detectives. In months of painstaking work, a secretly operating special unit of the Lebanese security forces, headed by intelligence expert Captain Wissam Eid, filtered out the numbers of mobile phones that could be pinpointed to the area surrounding Hariri on the days leading up to the attack and on the date of the murder itself. The investigators referred to these mobile phones as the "first circle of hell."

Captain Eid's team eventually identified eight mobile phones, all of which had been purchased on the same day in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. They were activated six weeks before the assassination, and they were used exclusively for communication among their users and -- with the exception of one case -- were no longer used after the attack. They were apparently tools of the hit team that carried out the terrorist attack.

But there was also a "second circle of hell," a network of about 20 mobile phones that were identified as being in proximity to the first eight phones noticeably often. According to the Lebanese security forces, all of the numbers involved apparently belong to the "operational arm" of Hezbollah, which maintains a militia in Lebanon that is more powerful than the regular Lebanese army.

Eid was later assassinated for getting too close to the truth (similiar evidence emerged connecting Hezb'allah to that murder as well). And a Hezb'allah operative who appears to be responsible for giving away the group's involvement by using one of the cell phones to call his girlfriend has disappeared - likely dead.

The news is already stirring up a hornet's nest in Lebanon with Hezb'allah leader Hassan Nasrallah issuing a warning (via Naharnet ):

"The report in Der Spiegel is very, very, very dangerous," Nasrallah said in comments transmitted via video link to thousands of supporters massed in the southern suburbs.

"I consider the report in Der Spiegel an Israeli accusation that Hizbullah killed the martyr Rafik Hariri and we will deal with this claim as such," he said in a speech marking the ninth anniversary of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.

He warned that the report was "more dangerous than Ain el-Rummaneh bus attack" which [was responsible for starting] the Lebanese 15-year civil war.

"This is why we have to deal with it responsibly because it is an agenda to stir strife," he said.

"Israel has issued its verdict in the Hariri case," he said.

Clearly, if Nasrallah can convince his followers of Sunni duplicity, it may lead to more violent clashes between Shia and Sunni forces who are already engaged in occasional attacks in the north around Tripoli.

Recognizing this danger, the old Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt (who has switched sides so many times in the last 30 years people have lost count) condemned the Spiegel article which drew praise from Nasrallah for Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party. Jumblatt has been very hard on Hezb'allah in the past but will, for the moment, play the statesman in order to keep the peace.

This new evidence does not necessarily let President Assad of Syria off the hook. It seems clear that some Lebanese loyal to Syria were involved in the assassination and the question of how high the conspiracy went needs clarification.

So far, the Tribunal is working as advertised - except for playing things close to the chest. Now that the information is out in the open, it may release what it has and let the chips fall where they may.