Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Wissam al-Hassan

This killing field: Any resurgence of terrorist activities in Lebanon?

There is no doubt that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nigeria are the current dominant killing fields of car bombing mass assassination…There are other region that media have no direct access or fake not to know much of what’s going around there, like north Mali, Mauritania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia…

It is the way Lebanon was from 1975 to 1989 and after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops in 2005… Is Lebanon being re-immersed in the same kinds of killing fields?

Andrew Bossone published in the Ahram weekly underLebanese killing fields”

“Lebanon could be closing a dark chapter of assassinations, or the latest victim could be the start of a protracted conflict…

Click to view caption
Lebanese mourners light candles during a vigil for Wissam
Al-Hassan and at least five others who were killed in a Friday bomb attack in Beirut

Since a car bomb in East Beirut killed a top state investigator, Wissam Al-Hassan, and at least five other people, gangs took control of streets and highways across the country. The police and army did little to stop young, armed men taking over for days.

“There’s a group of militant men who are speeding up the process of sectarian war between Sunni and Shia,” said journalist Moe Ali Nayel, who witnessed unaffiliated groups of men armed with Kalashnikovs roaming the streets of the Tarik Al-Jadida area on Monday after Al-Hassan’s death.

“Who were these guys shooting at?” Nayel asked. “There was no other side of the confrontation. It was just one angry mob shooting in the direction of Shia areas.”

The day after the explosion, roads shut down with teenagers burning tires and trash dumpsters. Highways and streets emptied as streams of thick black smoke billowed along the coast. Even military personnel had to ask the teenagers controlling a roadblock going south to let them pass.

It was only after Al-Hassan’s funeral, when some of the attendees tried to storm the parliament building, that government security forces finally interfered against mob rule on the streets. Gunshots rang throughout the night of the funeral, however, and continued the next afternoon.

“Militants were in the street, they were visible,” Nayel said. “This hinted to me that this conflict could drag on, and the side that is provoking at the moment is willing to take it to the end.”

Most Lebanese stayed inside for days, glued to national channels playing non-stop coverage of the events, afraid that violence could spread at any moment. They remain haunted by the civil war and by the death of prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri, which lead to Syria’s withdrawal from the country, and also the seven assassinations of Al-Hariri’s allies before Al-Hassan.

Investigators have days of surveillance tapes of the scene to trawl. They also found parts of the car fitted with two bombs, hoping to identify the killer, though the vehicle was likely stolen: Lebanon also has tens of thousands of fake license plates, so tracing the owner of the car could be impossible. If the assassination had been someone other than himself, Al-Hassan would have been the lead detective on the scene.

Ashraf Rifi, Al-Hassan’s former boss as general director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, said that 100 people like Wissam Al-Hassan will fill his shoes, but everyone knows Al-Hassan is practically irreplaceable. He was expected to take Rifi’s post and there was some speculation that he could have been on the verge of uncovering another plot.

Hassan security should have been stricter. On the day he was killed, he drove down a small street in Ashrafieh with only one guard.

As the top investigator in the Internal Security Forces Information Branch created in the wake of the killing of Rafic Al-Hariri PM, Al-Hassan worked out of the spotlight but may have also made his share of enemies.

In addition to charging Hizbollah members with Al-Hariri’s death as the lead investigator on the International Tribunal for Lebanon, Al-Hassan has been credited with uncovering at least one Mossad network.

But for some, Al-Hassan’s recent discovery of a bomb plot by Michel Samaha ordered from Damascus is enough to know the killer. Even President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati — who are not aligned with 14 March — said it was hard not to see the connection between the death of Al-Hassan and the capture of former minister and deputy Michel Samaha.

“This [security] institution is being punished with the assassination of its leader, Major General Wissam Al-Hassan, because the Information Branch has achieved so much, including uncovering bomb plots where they confiscated explosives and arrested the transporter,” said Suleiman, quoted in The Daily Star newspaper, referring to the Samaha case.

All this is happening as Syria’s capital is in the throes of war with roadblocks spread across it. The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was bombed the day before Al-Hassan’s death, while dozens died in the Damascus countryside over the following days.

One can’t help but feel that the uprising in Syria has finally reached Lebanon. In the last two months the number of Syrian refugees more than doubled to nearly 100,000. They need help for the winter and life has become unsafe after two attacks on Syrian workers at construction sites.

History and conflict have bound the two countries together and both are divided internally. It’s now up to the Lebanese to determine if Al-Hassan’s death ends a string of assassinations and divisive politics or brings back the sectarian specter of civil war.

How the Displaced residents of Achrafieh explosion are navigating compensation?

Victims of Friday’s Ashrafieh bombing, staying in hotels while their homes are inaccessible, expressed a mix of appreciation for officials’ efforts and confusion over the process of repairing their apartments.

Alex Taylor published in The Daily Star on Oct. 24, 2012:

BEIRUT: Sarah Abi Saab, 22, has been displaced since Friday when the car bomb that killed senior intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan and two others exploded at the entrance of the parking garage of her building.

She is now staying at the nearby Hotel Alexandre and was able to access her apartment Tuesday for the first time since the blast.

She returned to a scene of disarray where “not just the glass but the metal frames [of windows] had fallen out and everything was on the opposite side of the room, even the doors.”

“Everything was on the floor,” said Abi Saab, who lives alone in the apartment while she finishes school at the Lebanese American University in Jbeil.

The Higher Relief Committee began meeting Monday with Abi Saab and other residents of Ibrahim Monzer Street, the site of the explosion.

According to operations coordinator Elie Khoury, the HRC had registered residents of 59 apartments by the end of Tuesday and distributed $1,000 to every family living on the main street of the explosion.

“Today we finished processing all the families living on the street where the explosion occurred and have given out cash for rent to those families,” Khoury said.

Khoury could not yet estimate the total cost of the damage, nor when residents in the blast zone would be able to return to their apartments, as HRC teams are still surveying the damage.

“The engineering studies are still ongoing – can the buildings be renovated or do they need to be demolished? We have not been able to determine yet,” Khoury said of the five buildings at the center of the blast.

Abi Saab was at home Friday afternoon when the bomb exploded.

“I was sleeping on the bed and heard a boom. I woke up all of the sudden and a wind of glass just came over me,” she said.

Luckily she was not injured except for minor cuts on her legs and feet.

Although she was able to enter her building briefly Tuesday, Abi Saab wasn’t allowed to collect her possessions and had to be escorted by police as the criminal investigation into Friday’s bomb is ongoing.

Abi Saab said she had received $1,000 from the HRC to pay for temporary accommodations, but was facing difficulties registering her case for damages because her immediate family live outside Lebanon, in the United States and Cyprus.

“We had to fill out papers, but they wouldn’t accept my signature because the house is in my mom’s name. They need a lot of documents, papers and IDs but I didn’t have them because they’re all trapped in the building,” the student explained.

“I’m the only one that is responsible for the house and the papers. If I don’t get it done, they won’t come check the house.”

Various government officials have told the residents different timelines regarding when they may be able to access their homes.

“I wish there was more transparency,” said Zeina Nehme, a resident of the same building, who says different officials have told her she will either be able to enter her apartment within a day or not for a week.

“If only they would tell us on these few days, from this time to this time, we’ll be going to the apartments and checking on the damages … because now we’re getting different answers.”

Nehme, who works as a visiting university professor, recently returned to Lebanon for the year after working abroad for a long period. She was teaching Friday afternoon, but her elderly parents were in the building at the time of the explosion, escaping relatively unscathed.

“Nobody died in the building. It was a miracle,” Nehme said.

Nehme and other displaced residents have been given free hotel rooms in Hotel Alexandre for a week, personally paid for by Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui and other Free Patriotic Movement officials.

“I thank everybody for their help and for putting us up in this hotel. But we want to go home,” Zeina said.

Nehme is anxious to salvage what remains in her apartment, which she was only able to access with police escort for a few minutes Tuesday to retrieve medicines for her parents.

“The weather is changing and it’s going to start raining. We need to go start fixing and cleaning,” she said.

Despite confusion over proceeding with the HRC, Abi Saab said she was impressed by the response of ordinary Lebanese citizens to the bombing.

“Leave the politicians out. The Lebanese people and youth, they really surprised me, they had donations coming in, they’re holding a concert [to raise money] and they have gathered lists of what we need,” she said.

“I’m very, very proud.”

 A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 24, 2012, on page 4.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::




March 2023

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