Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hezbollah and the Hariri Tribunal

Just two weeks before the elections Der Spiegel journalist Eric Follath claims to have uncovered - from unnamed sources "close" to the International Tribunal - that Hezbollah are responsible for Hariri's assassination:

"SPIEGEL has learned from sources close to the tribunal and verified by examining internal documents, that the Hariri case is about to take a sensational turn. Intensive investigations in Lebanon are all pointing to a new conclusion: that it was not the Syrians, but instead special forces of the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah ("Party of God") that planned and executed the diabolical attack."

This allegation of course has been strongly rejected by Hezbollah that see this article as a smear and nothing more. Those that also see this article as rubbish are coming up with interesting details that have been listed by Syria Comment. One of the most interesting facts is that this article appears to be very similar to a Le Figaro article in 2006, according to Syria Comment.

The Der Spiegel article gives fascinating detail about one particular character that is central to the allegation of Hezbollah's involvement.

A reckless plotter Abd al-Majid Ghamlush in the attack, Follath claims, unraveled the network when he phoned his girlfriend on one of the "hot phones":

"Ghamlush's recklessness led investigators to the man they now suspect was the mastermind of the terrorist attack: Hajj Salim, 45. A southern Lebanese from Nabatiyah, Salim is considered to be the commander of the "military" wing of Hezbollah and lives in South Beirut, a Shiite stronghold."

Leaking Tribunal

What should be most worrying is that this leak has occurred at all.

It is unfathomable as to how at such a sensitive time in Lebanese politics and just after the four generals release that such a prominent leak could occur; especially two weeks before an election Hezbollah are expected to do well in.

If the Tribunal can not keep its own house in order how can it solve one of the most complex murder mysteries of modern times? Further to this, how will it be able to substantiate the claims that Hezbollah was involved with the assassination of Hariri with the claims out in the open?

If of course Follath fabricated this story then of course that is its own story. However, Der Spiegel is not a mickey mouse publication and apply high standards to their journalism. Follath is part of their investigative journalism team so it really is a Der Spiegel report. Some are pointing to Follath's book on Mossad to show his ties to the Israelis but no real allegations show an obvious bias.

Political Ramifications

In terms of the political effect that this news story has had: Israel has already jumped on the chance with Israeli FM Liberman calling for an international arrest warrant to be given to Nasrallah.

Of greater importance for Lebanon's internal stability is the wise choice thus far of the Future movement to not comment on this article. Although some are suggesting that the Future Movement may have planted the story to dent Hezbollah's chance of getting elected. There is no proof of this. Hani Hammoud, a spokesperson for MP Saad Hariri, refused to comment on the Der Speigel report.

“We do not comment on any media or other kind of reports if the source is not the Special Tribunal,” Hammoud said.

This report will turn the heat up on this election in terms of political rhetoric and the possibility of electoral violence. While the international tribunal now has to continue its investigations in an even more politically tense and suspicious environment. Has this leak sent the International Tribunal into oblivion rather than anyone else?


  1. The Tribunal is a shortcut for justice that will end up compromising instead of strenghtening Lebanon:

  2. Such type of criminal act can not be executed without the knowledge of syrian intelligence and Hizballah intellegence ,especially this crime which demand a lot of logistic ability and intellegence .