FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Hariri Assassination

by RANNIE AMIRI

In the Middle East, the link between political machinations, espionage and assassination is either clear as day, or clear as mud.

As for the yet unsolved case of the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, mud might be giving way to daylight.

A crackdown on Israeli spy rings operating in Lebanon has resulted in more than 70 arrests over the past 18 months. Included among them are four high-ranking Lebanese Army and General Security officers—one having spied for the Mossad since 1984.

A significant breakthrough in the ongoing investigation occurred in late June and culminated in the arrest of Charbel Qazzi, head of transmission and broadcasting at Alfa, one of Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile service providers.

According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Qazzi confessed to installing computer programs and planting electronic chips in Alfa transmitters. These could then be used by Israeli intelligence to monitor communications, locate and target individuals for assassination, and potentially deploy viruses capable of erasing recorded information in the contact lines. Qazzi’s collaboration with Israel reportedly dates back 14 years.

On July 12, a second arrest at Alfa was made. Tarek al-Raba’a, an engineer and partner of Qazzi, was apprehended on charges of spying for Israel and compromising national security. A few days later, a third Alfa employee was similarly detained.

Israel has refused to comment on the arrests. Nevertheless, their apparent ability to have penetrated Lebanon’s military and telecommunication sectors has rattled the country and urgently raised security concerns.

What does any of this have to do with the Hariri assassination?

Outside the obvious deleterious ramifications of high-ranking Lebanese military officers working for Israel, the very legitimacy of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is now in question. The STL is the U.N.-sanctioned body tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the assassination of the late prime minister. On Feb. 14, 2005, 1,000 kg of explosives detonated near Hariri’s passing motorcade, killing him and 21 others.

It is believed the STL will issue indictments in the matter as early as September—relying heavily on phone recordings and mobile transmissions to do so.

According to the AFP, “A preliminary report by the U.N. investigating team said it had collected data from mobile phone calls made the day of Hariri’s murder as evidence.”

The National likewise reported, “The international inquiry, which could present indictments or findings as soon as September, according to unverified media reports, used extensive phone records to draw conclusions into a conspiracy to kill Hariri, widely blamed on Syria and its Lebanese allies …”

In a July 16 televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah speculated the STL would use information gleaned from Israeli-compromised communications to falsely implicate the group in the prime minister’s murder:

“Some are counting in their analysis of the (STL) indictment on witnesses, some of whom turned out to be fake, and on the telecommunications networks which were infiltrated by spies who can change and manipulate data.

“Before the (2006) war, these spies gave important information to the Israeli enemy and based on this information, Israel bombed buildings, homes, factories and institutions. Many martyrs died and many others were wounded. These spies are partners in the killings, the crimes, the threats and the displacement.”

Nasrallah called the STL’s manipulation an “Israeli project” meant to “create an uproar in Lebanon.”

Indeed, in May 2008 Lebanon experienced a taste of this. At the height of an 18-month stalemate over the formation of a national unity government under then Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, his cabinet’s decision to unilaterally declare Hezbollah’s fixed-line communication system illegal pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Recognizing the value their secure lines of communication had in combating the July 2006 Israeli invasion and suspecting that state-owned telecoms might be compromised, Hezbollah resisted Siniora’s plans to have its network dismantled. Their men swept through West Beirut and put a quick end to the government’s plan. Two years later, their suspicions appear to have been vindicated.

Opposition MP and Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun has already warned Nasrallah that the STL will likely indict “uncontrolled” Hezbollah members to be followed by “… Lebanese-Lebanese and Lebanese-Palestinian tension, and by an Israeli war on Lebanon.”

Giving credence to Nasrallah and Aoun’s assertions, Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces Gabi Ashkenazi, predicted “with lots of wishes” that the situation in Lebanon would deteriorate in September after the STL indicts Hezbollah for Hariri’s assassination.

Ashkenazi’s gleeful, prescient testimony to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs Committee betrays what Israel hopes the fallout from the STL’s report will be: fomentation of civil strife and discord among Lebanon’s sectarian groups, generally divided into pro- and anti-Syria factions. Ashkenazi anticipates this to happen, of course, because he knows Israel’s unfettered access to critical phone records will have framed Hezbollah for the crime.

Israel’s agents and operatives in Lebanon and its infiltration of a telecom network have been exposed. At the very least, the STL must recognize that evidence of alleged Hezbollah involvement in Hariri’s death (a group that historically enjoyed good ties with the late premier) is wholly tainted and likely doctored.

The arrest of Qazzi and al-Raba’a in the breakup of Israeli spy rings should prompt the STL to shift its focus to the only regional player that has benefited from Hariri’s murder; one that will continue to do so if and when their designs to implicate Hezbollah are realized.

It is time to look at Tel Aviv.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri [at] yahoo [dot] com.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail