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
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail