Rafik Hariri Murder Trial
By Stephen Lendman
On January 16, the UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) convened. It did so in the Hague.
Nine years after Hariri's assassination, show trial proceedings began. Hezbollah members were wrongfully accused. More on this below.
A crime scene courtroom mockup was displayed. Hariri's killing took place on Beirut's waterfront. On February 14, 2005, his motorcade was targeted.
A powerful car bomb killed him. Around 20 others perished. Over 100 were injured. The blast left a 30-foot-wide/six-foot-deep crater.
On arrival at Beirut's American University Hospital, Hariri was pronounced dead. Fingers straightaway pointed the wrong way. Guilty parties were absolved. Innocent ones were accused.
Washington blamed Syria. Bellicose Bush administration threats followed. Media scoundrels regurgitated White House lies.
Washington Post editors said "(t)he despicable murder of Mr. Hariri benefits no one outside the rogue regime in Damascus - and the world should respond accordingly."
Killing Hariri was "the panicked act of a cornered tyrant," they claimed. Washington took full advantage. Its ambassador was recalled. Media reports suggested Bush officials had compelling.
Not so. Hezbollah was later blamed. WaPo editors accused its leaders of "homicidal terrorism." They "threat(en) Lebanon, Israel and the broader Middle East," they claimed.
At the same time, they called governments in Syria and Iran "dictatorships." They ignored the real cause of regional violence and instability. Washington and Israel bear full responsibility.
A so-called Lebanese Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch investigation lied. It claimed compelling evidence of Hezbollah's involvement.
A UN International Independent Investigation Commission alleged "a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination of Rafik 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."
In February 2006, the UN and Lebanese government proposed establishing a Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The Netherlands agreed to host hearings.
On March 1, 2009, STL convened. In June 2011, four Hezbollah members were wrongfully indicted. Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra were named.
Court-ordered arrest warrants followed. None were detained. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah refused to do so. He denounced the tribunal.
He justifiably called it a sham. Washington and Israel manipulate things. They divert attention from their own involvement.
"The text in our hands now is based on analysis and not clear evidence," said Nasrallah. It has no credibility whatever. No legitimate court would accept it.
"Those who were indicted should not be called 'charged' but unjustly treated," Nasrallah stressed.
Earlier he said Washington "pushed" for indictment. Americans controlled (its) form and content." Israel had its say.
"We will not allow our reputation and our honor to be touched," Nasrallah stressed.
STL lied saying Badreddine was in charge of killing Hariri. Ayyash headed the hit team, it added. No evidence whatever suggests Hezbollah's involvement.
Plenty indicts Israel. Targeted killings are an Israeli specialty. Eliminating opponents predated Israel's creation.
Future prime ministers were involved. They headed Jewish terrorist groups. Menachem Begin led Irgun. Yitzhak Shamir was a Lehi (Stern Gang) leader.
Before and after May 1948, thousands of targeted killings occurred or were attempted. Most aren't remembered today. Others won't be forgotten.
In November 1944, Lehi murdered Lord Moyne. He was Britain's Middle East minister of state. He was killed near his Cairo home.
In September 1948, Lehi assassins killed UN mediator Folke Bernadotte. They did so in Jerusalem. Yitzhak Shamir personally approved his murder.
In July 1946, Irgun bombed Jerusalem's King David Hotel. Ninety-two Brits, Arabs and Jews were massacred. Another 58 were wounded.
Future prime minister David Ben-Gurion approved the bombing. He led the Jewish Agency at the time.
Israel's entire history is blood-drenched. It reflects crimes of war, against humanity, genocide, and numerous targeted assassinations.
It includes massacres like Deir Yassin. On April 9, 1948, Irgun and Lehi killers slaughtered over 120 defenseless Palestinian men, women and children.
Houses were machine-gunned randomly. Villagers were killed in cold blood. Survivors were assembled outside. They were shot at point blank range.
Children and infants were murdered like adults. So were elderly and infirm Palestinians. No mercy was shown.
It was typical Israeli viciousness. Ensuing fighting killed dozens more. Many other villages were attacked the same way.
Ethnic cleansing involves mass slaughter and displacement. Leaders are targeted for elimination. Death squads kill without mercy.
Mossad credentials are notorious. Its record is indisputable. Its expertise is acknowledged.
Its rap sheet includes targeted assassinations, satellite, drone and other type spying, hacking and espionage, computer viruses, other cyber attacks, bombings, sabotage, and other lawless practices.
Hariri's assassination was classic Mossad. Hezbollah obtained compelling video and audio evidence.
It intercepted Israeli aerial surveillance footage. It did so of routes Hariri used on his assassination day. At the time, Nasrallah said:
"We have definite information on the aerial movements of the Israeli enemy the day Hariri was murdered."
"(A)n Israeli drone was (observed) surveying the Sidon-Beirut-Junieh coastline as warplanes were flying over Beirut."
(V)ideo (evidence) can be acquired by any investigative commission to ensure it is correct. We are sure of this evidence, or else we would not risk showing it."
Israeli spies infest Lebanon. Captured ones admitted Israel's responsibility for killing Hariri.
At the time, criminal law expert/Professor Hasan Jouni called Hezbollah's evidence compelling.
"Logically and legally...any new finding should be investigated by the general prosecutor," he said.
"Nasrallah submitted tangible evidence of the Israeli potential role in Hariri's assassination."
It appears incriminating. "Furthermore, the previous investigations which were circulated here and there should be revised."
North Lebanon Bar Association head Antoine Airout agreed, saying:
"Nasrallah's revelations are very serious and objective." Washington/Israeli manipulated proceedings ignored it.
Cui bono is key. Syria had nothing to gain. Nor did Hezbollah. They had plenty to lose. Israel, of course, benefits hugely. So does Washington.
Middle East expert Sam Hamod said earlier:
"We must do as they do in other criminal cases, look at who had the most to gain. The Lebanese (and Hezbollah) had a lot to lose, as did the Syrians.
"No matter where else you look, no one else had anything to gain except Israel and the US."
"America quickly (distanced itself) as did Israel, which was tantamount to convicting themselves because they are the only two countries that would gain by creating unrest in Lebanon."
At the time, Middle East journalist Patrick Seale agreed, saying:
"If Syria (or Hezbollah) killed (Hariri), it must be judged an act of political suicide." Doing so would "hand (their) enemies a weapon with which to deliver (a destabilizing) blow."
Seale named likely suspects at the time. They included "Islamist extremists...and, of course, Israel." It wants Syria and Hezbollah weakened and destroyed.
It "has great experience at 'targeted assassinations." It committed them "across the Middle East." It "sent hit teams to kill opponents in" numerous countries. "There is far more to (Hariri's murder) than a struggle between rival(s) in Lebanon."
Hezbollah threatens no one. It had nothing to do with Hariri's assassination. Israel is a global menace.
It gains hugely from regional conflict and instability. It does so from its crimes blamed on opponents. Washington benefits the same way.
STL is a hanging tribunal. It's an illegitimate one. When its proceedings end, expect justice denied. Expect Hezbollah members wrongfully blamed.
Expect Israel and Washington entirely absolved. Expect targeted Middle East countries on the boil to continue. Ravaged ones have visible scars to prove it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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