|Assassination of Rafic Hariri|
Ministry of the Interior soldier guarding the site of the attack that killed Hariri
|Date||February 14, 2005|
On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri was killed along with 21 others in an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. Explosives equivalent to around 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St. George Hotel. Among the dead were several of Hariri's bodyguards and former Minister of the Economy, Bassel Fleihan.
Hariri had been part of the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon. His assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution, a popular movement which forced Syria to withdraw all its troops in Lebanon by April 2005.The killing also led the United Nations to set up the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the killing. The Special Tribunal, along with an independent investigation carried out by Lebanese brigadier general Wissam Al-Hassan, found compelling evidence for the responsibility of Lebanese group Hezbollah in the assassination.
Hariri and others in the anti-Syrian opposition had questioned the plan to extend the term of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, emboldened by popular anger and civic action that became the Cedar Revolution. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a newer recruit of the anti-Syrian opposition, said after the assassination that in August 2004 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatened Hariri personally in a meeting, saying "Lahoud represents me...If you and Chirac want me out of Lebanon, I will destroy Lebanon."His account is quoted, but not confirmed, in the UN's FitzGerald Report. The report stops short of directly accusing Damascus or any other party, saying that only a further thorough international inquest can identify the culprit.
According to these testimonies, Hariri reminded Assad of his pledge not to seek an extension for Lahoud's term, and Assad replied that there was a policy shift and that the decision was already taken. He added that Lahoud should be viewed as his personal representative in Lebanon and that "opposing him is tantamount to opposing Assad himself". He then added that he (Assad) "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of Hariri and [Druze leader] Walid Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken".
According to the testimonies, Assad then threatened both longtime allies Hariri and Jumblatt with physical harm if they opposed the extension for Lahoud. The meeting reportedly lasted for ten minutes, and was the last time Hariri met with Assad. After that meeting, Hariri told his supporters that they had no other option but to support the extension for Lahoud. The Mission has also received accounts of further threats made to Hariri by security officials in case he abstained from voting in favor of the extension or "even thought of leaving the country."
Irish journalist Lara Marlowe also reported that Hariri told her he had been threatened by Assad.
In an interview with Der Spiegel , President Assad said, "I never threatened him and no Syrian intelligence officer has ever pointed a gun to his head."
On September 2, 2004, the UN adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for Syria to end its 29-year occupation of Lebanon.
On the morning of 14 February, Hariri visited parliament and then the Café de l'Etoile for about twenty minutes. He left the cafe in a six-car convoy and followed a route that was kept secret until the very last minute.Six and a half minutes after leaving the cafe, as the convoy neared the St. George Hotel on the Corniche, a truck bomb exploded, destroying the convoy.
The blast left a crater thirty feet wide in the Corniche. A total of 22 people, including Hariri, were killed, and 220 more were injured. Dozens of cars were set on fire, several buildings were knocked down, and windows were blown out on many more.
Hariri was buried, along with the bodyguards who died in the bombing, in a location near Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.
A group calling itself "The Nasra & Jihad Group in Greater Syria" claimed responsibility for the blast. The group had not been heard from before.A tape aired by Al Jazeera showed a bearded man, believed to be a Palestinian named Ahmad Abu Adas, claiming the attack. Adas' home was raided but he remains missing. The UN report on the murder speculated he may have been the suicide bomber but also quotes a witness who said Adas had nothing to do with the bombing.
The UN report determined that the bomb had been placed in a white Mitsubishi Canter van, based on video footage from an HSBC bank.It was likely detonated by a suicide bomber, which would have evaded the electronic jamming devices of Hariri's convoy. Investigators determined that the Mitsubishi truck had been stolen from Sagamihara, Japan, on October 12, 2004.
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The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1595 to send an investigative team to look into Hariri's assassination. This team was headed by German judge Detlev Mehlis and presented its initial report to the Security Council on 20 October 2005. The Mehlis Report implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials,with special focus on Syria's military intelligence chief, late Assef Shawkat and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law. United States President George W. Bush called for a special meeting of the UN to be convened to discuss international response "as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter." Detlev Mehlis asked for more time to investigate all leads. Lebanese politicians asked to extend the investigative team's duration and charter, to include assassinations of other prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese, such as Gebran Tueni. A second report, submitted on 10 December 2005, upheld the conclusions from the first report. On 11 January 2006, Mehlis was replaced by the Belgian Serge Brammertz.
The Lebanese government agreed to this inquiry, though calling for the full participation, not supremacy, of its own agencies and the respect of Lebanese sovereignty.The UN Security Council voted unanimously to demand full Syrian cooperation with UN investigators in the matter, and Brammertz's last two reports praised Syria's full co-operation.
On August 30, 2005, four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals (some of whom had promoted the false Abu Addas theory) were subsequently arrested under suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. They were detained without charge by Lebanese authorities for four years and released by the STL when it took over the investigation in 2009. Mustafa Hamdan, former head of the Lebanese Presidential Guard brigade; Jamil al Sayyed, former Director-General of Security General; Ali al Hajj, director general of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces; and Raymond Azar, the former director of the Military Intelligence were released upon an order from the STL Pre-Trial Judge at the request of the Prosecutor due to lack of evidence. In making the request, the Prosecutor had considered “inconsistencies in the statements of key witnesses and of a lack of corroborative evidence to support these statements.”
Syrian Minister of Interior Ghazi Kanaan was interviewed in September 2005 by Detlev Mehlis' team as a "witness" in the assassination.Kanaan denied any involvement in the assassination. On October 12, Kanaan was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in his Damascus office." The Syrian government said it was a suicide, though others claimed it was murder to sever the link between Hariri's death and the regime.
On 30 December 2005, former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam in a televised interview implicated Assad in the assassination and said that Assad personally threatened Hariri in the months before his death.This interview has caused Syrian MPs to demand treason charges against Khaddam.
On 18 December 2006, a progress report by former head of the investigation, Serge Brammertz, indicated that DNA evidence collected from the crime scene suggests that the assassination might be the act of a young male suicide bomber.
On 28 March 2008, the tenth report of the UN's International Independent Investigation Commission found that, "a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and that this criminal network — the "Hariri Network" — or parts thereof are linked to some of the other cases within the Commission's mandate."
The Security Council extended the mandate for the investigation, which was to end in December 2008, until 28 February 2009.
On 7 February 2012, Hurriyet reported investigators from the United Nations interviewed Louai Sakka, interested in whether he had played a role in the assassination.
The Government of Lebanon and United Nations agreed to establish a Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2007, signing the agreement on 23 January 2007 and 6 February 2007 respectively. When the agreement was sent to the Lebanese Parliament for ratification, however, the Speaker refused to convene Parliament to vote on it.Upon request from a majority of members of the Lebanese parliament and the Prime Minister, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1757, implementing the agreement.
For reasons of security, administrative efficiency and fairness,the Tribunal has its seat outside Lebanon, in Leidschendam, on the outskirts of The Hague, the Netherlands. The premises of the Tribunal is the former headquarters of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, or AIVD). The Netherlands originally agreed to host the Tribunal on December 21st, 2007. The court opened on 1 March 2009.
The Tribunal is the first international court to prosecute terrorism as a distinct crime.
On 29 April 2009, following a request of Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, the Pre-Trial Judge determined that the four suspects arrested during the investigation could not be considered "as either suspects or accused persons in the proceedings pending before the Tribunal" and ordered their unconditional release. [ citation needed ]The detained persons were General Jamil al Sayyed (head of General Security), General Ali al Hajj (chief of internal security forces, the Lebanese police force), Brigadier-General Raymond Azar (head of Army Intelligence) and Brigadier-General Mustafa Hamdan (head of the presidential guard). Considered as Syria's main rule-enforcing agents at the time, they spent nearly 3 years and 8 months in detention after Lebanese authorities arrested them on 1 September 2005, and during that period no charges were ever pressed against them. Their release came amidst a tense political atmosphere in Lebanon, due to the officially admitted heavy politicization of the affair. Several anti-Syrian political figures have stated that "[we] still consider them as guilty."
On 30 June 2011, Haaretz reported that the Tribunal had submitted to Lebanon's Prosecutor General indictments of four Lebanese Hezbollah members, and a foreigner. The indictments were served by representatives of the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
One of the Special Tribunal's leading figures was Lebanese Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan. On 19 October 2012, al-Hassan was assassinated in a car explosion in the Achrafieh district of Beirut.
Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al. began on the 16th of January 2014with an opening statement from the Prosecution. Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra are currently on trial in absentia, as it was determined they had absconded and did not wish to participate in the trial. The trial is ongoing.
In August 2010, in response to notification that the UN tribunal would indict some Hezbollah members, Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said Israel was looking for a way to assassinate Hariri as early as 1993 in order to create political chaos that would force Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and to perpetuate an anti-Syrian atmosphere in Lebanon in the wake of the assassination. He went on to say that in 1996 Hezbollah apprehended an agent working for Israel by the name of Ahmed Nasrallah – no relation to Hassan Nasrallah – who allegedly contacted Hariri's security detail and told them that he had solid proof that Hezbollah was planning to take his life. Hariri then contacted Hezbollah and advised them of the situation.Saad Hariri responded that the UN should investigate these claims.
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Hariri was well-regarded among international leaders; for example, he was a close friend of French President Jacques Chirac. Few felt he was a threat, due to his ties with the EU and the West. Chirac was one of the first foreign dignitaries to offer condolences to Hariri's widow in person at her home in Beirut. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was also created at his instigation.
Following Hariri's death, there were several other bombings and assassinations against anti-Syrian figures. These included Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Pierre Amine Gemayel, and Walid Eido. Assassination attempts were made on Elias Murr, May Chidiac, and Samir Shehade (who was investigating Hariri's death).
Rafic Baha El Deen Al Hariri was a Lebanese business tycoon and the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation on 20 October 2004.
The Cedar Revolution or Independence Intifada was a chain of demonstrations in Lebanon triggered by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri. The popular movement was remarkable for its avoidance of violence, peaceful approach, and its total reliance on methods of civil resistance.
The "Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Lebanon inquiring into the causes, circumstances and consequences of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, 25 February - 24 March 2005", better known as the FitzGerald Report, is the outcome of an inquiry, ordered by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and conducted by Irish deputy police commissioner Peter FitzGerald, into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005..
Since 2004, a series of bombings and assassinations have struck Lebanon, most of them occurring in and around the capital, Beirut. This wave of bombings began with the assassination attempt on Marwan Hmade, then peaked with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on 14 February 2005, which touched off the Cedar Revolution and the withdrawal of Syrian troops. After the massive protests sparked by Hariri's killing, several more bombings hit Lebanon.
Rustum Ghazaleh also transl. from Arabic as Rostom Ghazale, Rustom Ghazalah, Rustom Ghazali; was a Syrian military and intelligence officer.
The Mehlis Report is the result of the United Nations' investigation into the 14 February 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. The investigation was launched in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1595 and headed by the German prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis. It involved questioning of Lebanese and Syrian officials.
Detlev Mehlis is the Senior Public Prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General in Berlin. He has 30 years of prosecutorial experience and has led numerous investigations into serious, complex transnational crimes. He has been a senior public prosecutor since 1992 and has, over the course of his career, been responsible for prosecuting terrorism and organized crime cases. Most notably, he investigated the bombing on the discotheque La Belle in then West-Berlin in 1986, which claimed the life of two US soldiers and a Turkish woman, and uncovered the involvement of the Libyan intelligence service. He also proved the involvement of the terrorist Carlos and Syrian diplomats in the attack on the French culture centre Maison de France, also in West-Berlin, in 1983, as well as the involvement of Syrian intelligence services in the bombing of a German-Arab social center in Berlin in 1986. Since 1998, Mehlis has been the Chief of the Contact Office of the European Judicial Network and Coordinator for the fight against organized crime in the State of Berlin.
Mustafa Hamdan, also known as Mustapha Hamdan, was general and head of the Lebanese Presidential (Republican) Guard brigade.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), also referred to as the Lebanon Tribunal or the Hariri Tribunal, is a tribunal of international character applying Lebanese criminal law to carry out the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the 14 February 2005 assassination of Rafic Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, and the deaths of 21 others, as well as those responsible for connected attacks.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1636, adopted unanimously on 31 October 2005, after recalling resolutions 1373 (2001), 1566 (2004) and 1595 (2005), the Council insisted that the Syrian authorities fully co-operate with the inquiry of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, not least by arresting the suspects identified by the commission in its final report.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1595, adopted unanimously on 7 April 2005, after recalling its support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon, the Council established a commission to assist Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in Beirut on 14 February 2005.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1644, adopted unanimously on 15 December 2005, after recalling resolutions 1373 (2005), 1566 (2004), 1595 (2005) and 1636 (2005), the Council demanded that Syria respond to the inquiry of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, and extended the investigation until 15 June 2006.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1664 was adopted unanimously on March 29, 2006; after recalling resolutions 1595 (2005), 1636 (2005) and 1644 (2005), the Council requested the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consult with the Lebanese government concerning the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and 22 others in February 2005.
The formation of a new government led by Najib Mikati follows five months of negotiations after the fall of the Saad Hariri government. Mikati formed a controversial 30-minister cabinet. Following ruptures and tensions and two previous threats to resign, Mikati finally resigned on 23 March 2013. Tammam Salam was tasked to form a new government on 6 April 2013.
Ali Al Hajj is the former major general and director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.
Mustafa Badreddine, also known as Mustafa Badr Al Din, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Mustafa Youssef Badreddine, Sami Issa, and Elias Fouad Saab, was a military leader of Hezbollah and both the cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyah. He was nicknamed "Dhu al-Fiqar" referring to the legendary sword of Imam Ali. Badreddine was killed in 2016 by shelling at Damascus International Airport, and Hezbollah announced the attack was launched by Takfiri groups, while the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported that Badreddine was killed by his former bodyguard, by order of Nasrallah and Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, and this was confirmed on 21 March 2017 by the head of the Israel Defense Forces, Gadi Eizenkot, who stated that Badreddine was killed by his own men due to internal rivalries. His death is seen as one of the biggest blows in the Hezbollah leadership.
Wissam Adnan al-Hassan was a brigadier general at the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the head of its intelligence-oriented Information Branch. Seen as a leading Sunni figure in Lebanon, he was also a key player in the opposition March 14 alliance without having a political position.
On 19 October 2012, Wissam al-Hassan, a brigadier general of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the head of its intelligence-oriented information branch, died along with several others killed by a car bomb in the Achrafieh district of Beirut. The killing of a senior figure closely linked with the anti-Assad camp in Lebanon led to immediate speculation that Syria, or its allies, were behind the attack in Beirut. Al-Hassan had also led the investigation that implicated Syria and its ally Hezbollah in the killing of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri.
The assassination of Mohamad Chatah occurred on 27 December 2013 when a car bomb targeting a convoy detonated in Beirut Central District killing Chatah, his bodyguard, and four others. Chatah had previously served as Lebanon's finance minister and ambassador to the United States and was known as a leading critic of Hezbollah and the Assad regime among the country's political elite. Described as a political assassination, the killing was widely seen as a message to Lebanon's March 14 movement.
The following lists events that happened in 2007 in Lebanon.
Two members of the United Nations International Investigative Commission are in Istanbul to research possible links between top Al Qaeda operative Louai Sakka and the assassination two years ago of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
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