October 20, 2005


UN accuses Syria of leading plot to murder ex-Lebanese premier: President al-Assad's brother-in-law is implicated by inquiry into Beirut attack (James Bone and Richard Beeston, 10/21/05, Times of London

THE UN last night accused Syria of involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, setting the stage for a showdown with Damascus.

The unprecedented inquiry, led by the German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, implicated General Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President al-Assad of Syria and his military intelligence chief in the plot to murder Mr Hariri.

Once witness told the inquiry that two weeks before the assissination General Shawkat forced a scapegoat, who was later killed, to record a videotape claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing. [...]

“There is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act,” the report concluded. [...]

The report will have profound ramifications for the region. It leaves President al-Assad isolated and might force his Lebanese ally President Lahoud out of office.

Britain, America and France are already preparing follow-up action, to be debated in the UN Security Council next week, that will demand those responsible be placed in custody to stand trial.

In Lebanon, there were fears last night that blaming Syria could unleash a new round of violence.

Good time to go clean out the portions of Eastern Syria that jihadis have been infiltrating Iraq from....

Mehlis' report says top Syrian security officials approved Hariri's murder (Mayssam Zaaroura, Majdoline Hatoum and Leila Hatoum, October 21, 2005, Daily Star)

UN Chief Investigator Detlev Mehlis said the decision to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could not have been taken without the approval top Syrian security officials and further organized with the “counterparts in the Lebanese security services.” Mehlis, who presented his report to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday, said in his report on the investigations his team conducted since June 16, 2005, that “witness statements who didn’t approach the authorities for lack of confidence told the commission” that Syria approved the killing of Hariri.

He also noted that the “Commission’s investigation has confirmed what many in Lebanon have long asserted, that senior Syrian intelligence officials had a powerful day-to-day and overall strategic influence on the governance of Lebanon.”

In his conclusion Mehlis wrote that the “structure and organization of the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services in Lebanon at the time of the blast, including protocols for reporting, shows a pervasive impact on everyday life in Lebanon.”

Mehlis, who listened to depositions of various officials including Hariri’s own son Beirut MP Saad Hariri, came to the conclusion that “the evidence collected by the Commission point to the possibility that Syrian officials were involved in the assassination of Mr. Hariri. When the Commission attempted to get the cooperation of the Syrian Government in pursuing these lines of the investigation, the Commission was met with cooperation in form, not substance.”

He also noted the rocky relation between Hariri and the Syrian officials most notably Syrian President Bashar Assad, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Chief of Syrian Intelligence apparatus in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh.

Mehlis mentioned in his report that Hariri’s son said his father was threatened by Assad.

Saad said: “I discussed with my father, the late Rafik Hariri, the extension of President Lahoud’s term. He told me that President Bashar Assad threatened him telling him: “This is what I want. If you think that President Chirac and you are going to run Lebanon, you are mistaken. It is not going to happen. President Lahoud is me. Whatever I tell him, he follows suit. This extension is to happen or else I will break Lebanon over your head and Walid Jumblat’s. (…) So, you either do as you are told or we will get you and your family wherever you are.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 20, 2005 10:54 PM

With that, the UN can go on to pass 17 resolutions over the next 2 years, condemning Assad and his government.

Posted by: obc at October 20, 2005 11:27 PM

True but Bush only needs 1 to justify action.

Posted by: AWW at October 20, 2005 11:43 PM

Isn't the time bomb here the mention of Lebanese involvement? Doesn't that more or less have to mean Hezbollah?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 21, 2005 8:05 AM

With a J-DAM, of course, and a side of Hellfire.

Posted by: Mikey at October 21, 2005 3:00 PM