Hariri Assassination Suspects and Independence Government

To understand the recent unjustifiable blow by some Lebanese proxies occupying the downtown Beirut we should search for the international tribunal and keep our attention to the international probe into ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination and to the Iranian nuclear program.

Here is a report on the latest report of the International Independent Investigation Commission to the Security Council followed by the latest Security Council presidential statement on the Lebanese situation supporting the legitimate independence government and calling for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias and armed groups in Lebanon:

Suspects Identified in U.N. Probe into Hariri Assassination

12 Dec 2006

The U.N. probe into ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination has now identified suspects and witnesses and found possible links to 14 other murders or attempted killings in Lebanon over the past two years, chief investigator Serge Brammertz said.

Brammertz, a Belgian prosecutor, said his investigation has reached "a critical stage."

In its fourth report to the U.N. Security Council issued Tuesday, the International Independent Investigation Commission which Brammertz heads provided new evidence and tantalizing clues about the suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on Feb. 14, 2005.

Brammertz said his investigators have now identified a number of suspects and witnesses but agreed with Lebanon's prosecutor general that none of their names should be made public to avoid prejudicing any trial.

"The commission has reached a critical stage in its investigations, and with this in mind, the commission and the prosecutor general of Lebanon believe that placing information concerning witnesses and suspects in the public domain would be contrary to the principles of fairness and justice," Brammertz said.

He also revealed that the commission's work on 14 other cases of murder and attempted murder since October 2004 "continues to elicit significant links between each case, and to indicate links to the Rafik Hariri case."

The U.N. team is also helping Lebanese authorities investigate the Nov. 21 assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel -- an event that pushed lingering political tensions in Lebanon to a new crisis point.

The report said some of the victims of the targeted attacks were directly or indirectly linked to the March 14 Forces. Samir Kassir, Gebran Tueni, George Hawi and Marwan Hamadeh were associated with it in one context or another.

It said another link between Marwan Hamadeh, Rafik Hariri, Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni was their association with An Nahar newspaper.

Some of the victims were also connected to each other or to Rafik Hariri through family ties, friendship or other personal association, the report added.

Brammertz said 240 "exhibits" related to the killing have been sent to a laboratory for forensic research and analysis.

A report last year by Brammertz's predecessor implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services and four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals have been under arrest for 15 months accused of involvement in Hariri's murder.

Many in Lebanon blamed Syria for Hariri's death and massive street protests coupled with an international outcry in the wake of the killing forced Syria to end its 29-year domination of Lebanon. Syria has denied involvement in the killing.

The U.N. investigation has determined that a single blast from a Mitsubishi van packed with high explosives was likely detonated by a male suicide bomber who did not grow up in Lebanon but spent his final months here.

Brammertz said they were still trying to pinpoint where the bomber came from and were analyzing 33 human parts believed to be the remains of the bomber to that end.

The commission said the most likely scenario was that a bomber triggered the device that killed Hariri from inside or immediately in front of the van.

"The commission has received new information specifying details of the preparation of the van and establishment of the route of the van as it was brought to the St. Georges hotel area prior to the attack," the report said, referring to the hotel next to the bombing site.

The commission is also continuing to investigate "matters arising from a victim at the crime scene who had been discovered in a situation protected from the blast but who was killed by falling masonry," Brammertz said. The report did not identify that victim.

Investigators are also looking into the discovery in June "of certain personal effects of a victim of the explosion" at the bombing scene in Beirut, Brammertz said. He gave no details of the items.

Brammertz said the commission is also investigating Ahmed Abu Adass, a Palestinian who lived in Lebanon and appeared on a video tape claiming responsibility. The investigation "has elicited some useful information" from individuals associated with him in Lebanon and abroad.

A previous report from Brammertz in June said there was no evidence Adass was involved. But in Tuesday's report, he said investigators were focusing on how Adass was chosen "for the role he played" and his alleged involvement with unnamed individuals in late 2004 and early 2005, when he disappeared.

The investigators have discovered that a team of bombers used aliases and six cell phones to communicate on the day of the Hariri bombing and there were indications that they had significant knowledge about security measures.

"The location of the telephones when used, and the purposes for which some of the linking numbers were used have revealed the high degree of security-aware behavior exhibited by individuals under investigation," Brammertz said.

He also said the commission is assuming the Hariri tribunal will be created. But he stressed that his investigation is taking place in a "volatile" and "highly unpredictable" political and security environment that could contribute to the reticence of witnesses.

Brammertz said Syria's cooperation with his investigators "remains timely and efficient" though he criticized 10 other countries -- which he did not name -- for failing to respond to 22 requests from the commission.

"The level of assistance provided by Syria during the reporting period remains generally satisfactory," Brammertz said in his 22-page report.

The report said the investigating commission "will continue to request Syria's full cooperation, which remains crucial to the swift and successful completion of its work."

Investigators conducted six interviews and held five meetings with relevant Syrian officials in recent months, Brammertz said.

The report said the Brammertz-led team was looking into allegations that the attack on Hariri might have been carried out "by aerial means."

It said "further collection work is being undertaken, including forensically and through the acquisition of technical data" to clarify "the likelihood of such a means being a viable attack option, prior to further investigation steps being taken."

On Gemayels' assassination he said that "it is probable that Gemayel was the subject of surveillance as part of a planned assassination operation against him, although it is not yet clear for how long this plan had been conceived," it said.

"The attackers who shot over 49 rounds (on Gemayel's vehicle) using four different types of ammunition" were aboard a dark-colored vehicle, probably a Honda CRV, it added.

The findings suggest six of the attacks targeted individuals with known political leanings while the other eight aimed to "spread fear among the population" and "destabilize the security situation," he said. (Naharnet-AP-AFP)

Click here to read full Brammertz report


Statement by the President of the Security Council

12 December 2006

At the 5586th meeting of the Security Council, held on 12 December 2006, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council recalls all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 1701 (2006), 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), as well as the statements of its president on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 30 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/43) and of 21 November 2006 (S/PRST/2006/46).

“The Security Council reiterates its full support for the legitimate and democratically-elected Government of Lebanon, calls for full respect for the democratic institutions of the country, in conformity with the constitution, and condemns any effort to destabilize Lebanon. The Security Council calls upon all Lebanese political parties to show responsibility with a view to preventing, through dialogue, further deterioration of the situation in Lebanon. It reaffirms its strong support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders and under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon. The Council reiterates its call upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully and urgently with the Security Council for the full implementation of all relevant resolutions concerning the restoration of the territorial integrity, full sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon.

“The Security Council welcomes the letter of the Secretary-General to the President of the Council of 1 December 2006 (S/2006/933), as well as his previous reports of 18 August 2006 (S/2006/670) and of 12 September 2006 (S/2006/730) on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).

“The Security Council calls for the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) and urges all concerned parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the Secretary-General to achieve this goal.

“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s indication of the continuing commitment of the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to all aspects of the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006). It urges both Governments to strictly abide by their commitment and to pursue their efforts to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution as envisioned in the resolution.

“The Security Council notes that important progress has been made towards the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), in particular through the cessation of hostilities, the imminent withdrawal of all the Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in the south of the country for the first time in three decades, together with the deployment so far of more than 10,000 troops from the reinforced UNIFIL.

“The Security Council welcomes the maintenance of the cessation of hostilities since 14 August 2006, supports the work done by UNIFIL, together with the parties, to finalize the Israeli withdrawal from the remaining area inside Lebanon and set up temporary security arrangements for the part of the village of Ghajar inside Lebanese territory, positively notes the decision of the Israeli Cabinet in this regard, and looks forward to its early implementation.

“The Security Council commends the Lebanese Government for extending its authority throughout its territory, particularly in the south, and encourages it to continue its efforts in this regard, including through the reinforcement of its capacities along its borders and the exercise of its monopoly of the use of force all over its territory in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.

“The Security Council reiterates its full support to UNIFIL and looks forward to the completion of its deployment early next year as contemplated by the Secretary-General in his letter. It expresses its strong appreciation to Member States who have contributed to UNIFIL in the past and since the adoption of resolution 1701 (2006) and notes the establishment of the Strategic
Military Cell dedicated to UNIFIL at United Nations Headquarters.

“The Security Council, while expressing deep concern at the continuing Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, appeals to all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety, to refrain from any act of provocation and to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel,
including by avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel and by ensuring UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operation.

“The Security Council, in this context, reiterates its deep concern at latest reports, though unverified, of illegal movements of arms into Lebanon. It welcomes the initial steps taken by the Government of Lebanon, notably the deployment of 8,000 troops along the border, to prevent movements of arms in conformity with relevant resolutions, and reiterates its call upon the
Government of Syria to take similar measures to reinforce controls at the border.

“The Security Council, mindful of the conclusions of the team of border police experts dispatched by the Secretary-General at the request of the Government of Lebanon, invites the Secretary-General to pursue further technical and independent assessment of the situation along the border and to report back to the Council on further findings and recommendations in this regard.

“The Council further invites Member States, as recommended by the Secretary-General, to consider possible bilateral assistance to the Government of Lebanon to enhance its border security capacities.

“The Council urges all Member States, in particular in the region, to take all necessary measures to implement in full paragraph 15 of resolution 1701 (2006), including the arms embargo, and expresses its intention to consider further steps to achieve the goals set out in that paragraph.

“The Security Council welcomes the concrete steps taken by the Government of Lebanon, with the assistance of UNIFIL, to establish between the Blue Line and the Litani river an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL and calls upon the Government of Lebanon to strengthen its efforts to this end.
The Council also reiterates its call for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias and armed groups in Lebanon.

“The Security Council expresses deepest concern at the presence in very high numbers of unexploded ordnance in south Lebanon, including cluster munitions. It deplores the death and injury of dozens of civilians, as well as of several deminers, caused by those munitions since the cessation of hostilities.
It welcomes the continued contribution of UNIFIL to operational mine clearance, encourages further assistance in mine action by the United Nations to the Government of Lebanon in support of both the continued development of its national mine action capacity and clearance of the remaining mine/unexploded ordnance threat in the South, commends donor countries for
supporting these efforts through financial and in-kind contributions and encourages further international contributions and practical cooperation.

“The Security Council reaffirms the urgent need for the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers.

“The Security Council further encourages efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.

“The Security Council commends the efforts of the Secretary-General and his facilitator to this end and calls upon all parties concerned to support those efforts.

“Bearing in mind the relevant provisions of resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006), in particular on the delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border, the Security Council takes note with interest of the appointment by the Secretary-General of a senior cartographer to review relevant material and develop an accurate territorial definition of the Shaba’a
farms area.

“The Security Council notes with appreciation the process launched by the Secretary-General to investigate the cartographic, legal and political implications of the proposal contained in the seven-point plan of the Government of Lebanon and looks forward to its further recommendations on this issue early next year.

“The Security Council calls upon the international community urgently to provide the Government of Lebanon with financial assistance in support of the national early recovery and reconstruction process. It expresses its appreciation to the Member States, United Nations bodies and intergovernmental, regional and non-governmental organizations that have
provided and continue to provide assistance to the Lebanese people and Government, and looks forward to the success of the international Conference which will be held in Paris, on 25 January 2007, in support of Lebanon.

“The Security Council reaffirms its full support to the Secretary-General in his efforts and dedication to facilitate and assist in the fulfilment of all provisions of resolution 1701 (2006) and requests the Secretary-General to report on a quarterly basis on the implementation of that resolution, notably on further progress made towards the achievement of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution.”


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