Slanting Rafiq Hariri’s Assassination

A United Nations (UN) Special Tribunal received a mandate to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and handed down indictments to prosecutors in Lebanon. Its indictments named four men, Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Asad Sabra, and Hasan Ainessi, with “ties” to Hezbollah. The “leaks” do not refer to the involvement of any political party or indicate that the indicted represented a specific organization. It’s not far fetched that we might eventually learn that the bombing was a Mafia type contract and occurred due to a rupture of business relationships. Nevertheless, the media slanted the news to an indictment of Hezbollah and strained to find information to support its revelations. Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, added fuel to the embers by permitting himself to be quoted as saying, “he would never surrender the indicted to authorities.”

A reading of Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on July 2 does not reveal any statement that approached this quotation, which appears often in the press. The closest statement made by the Hezbollah leader is: “This investigation, tribunal, resolutions and what is issued by it are to us clearly American and Israeli. Accordingly, we refuse it and we refuse all what it issues whether groundless accusations or groundless sentences.”

Characterized as a “terrorist crime,” it marks the first time that a UN-based “quasi” court tries a crime committed against a specific person. No trials of who killed Mohandas Ghandi, India (1947 ), Salvador Allende, Chile (1972 ), Archbishop Romero, El Salvador (1980), Indira Ghandi, India (1984), Olof Palme, Sweden (1986), Banazir Bhutto, Pakistan (2007), and 18 other Lebanese politicians.

More significant: The UN never investigated the 1948 murder of United Nations mediator Count Folke Bernadotte during the British Mandate, nor assassinations of their officials in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Southern Lebanon, and elsewhere.

Firstly, there is no mentioned evidence that the killing was a “terrorist” crime of political origins. Hariri had many business enemies and the assassination could have had many origins.

Secondly, the four indicted men might have been sympathetic to Hezbollah, as are most Shi’a in Lebanon, but are they formal members? Does Hezbollah have applications, review committees and a formal and available membership list?

Thirdly, member action does not automatically relate to organization action.

The misplaced, contradictory, fabricated, and incredible media reports demonstrate that the media is the problem. Note the contradictions, fabrications, and dubious language.

Media Sampling

Hague Justice Portal
Multiple media reports stated that those indicted were high-ranking Hezbollah members, including Mustafa Badreddine, the head of external operations and cousin of the deceased prominent Hezbollah official Imad Mughnieh. [emphasis added]

Associated Press
One of the people named is Mustafa Badreddine, believed to have been Hezbollah’s deputy military commander. He is the brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh. [emphasis added] ((Bassem Mroue and Elizabeth A. Kennedy, June 30, 2011.))

A Separate State of Mind
Mustafa Badreddine is the brother-in-law of Hezbollah’s assassinated commander Imad Mughniyeh and he eventually replaced Mughniyeh as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer. He is also said to be the mastermind and supervisor behind the Hariri assassination. [emphasis added]

Los Angeles Times
The identities of the four suspects were not released, and the indictment remained sealed. But local news reports suggested all four were Lebanese nationals linked to Hezbollah, a major militia and political party backed by Iran and Syria. [emphasis added] ((Alexandra Sandels and Patrick J. McDonnell, July 01, 2011.))

Arutz Sheva
Rafik Hariri’s assassination was directly motivated by the political aspirations of the Hizbullah terror-organization, London-based Asharq al-Awasat reported Friday. Four Hizbullah members were indicted for the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Thursday.

Quoting “reliable sources,” al-Aswat said the 183-page indictment lists the reasons and political motivations behind the assassination as well as the planning, execution and cover-up stages. [emphasis added]

Note the contradictory misspellings of Asharq Al-Awsat. No match of this ‘report’ can be found on Arutz Sheva‘s website.

San Francisco Chronicle
Badreddine is a Hezbollah military commander and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was blamed for the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, and who died in a car-bomb in Syria in 2008, LBC said. [emphasis added]

CNN World
Badreddine — who is the brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, a former Hezbollah commander who was assassinated in Syria in 2008 — is reported to be a member of Hezbollah’s advisory council. [emphasis added]

NY Daily News
There was never a scintilla of doubt that Hezbollah terrorists were behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and now it’s official. A United Nations tribunal issued indictments after a long investigation into the 2005 attack that killed Hariri and 23 others. The panel asked Lebanon’s government to arrest ranking Hezbollah operative Mustafa Badreddine and three accomplices. Badreddine is also a leading suspect in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. [emphasis added]

Ya Libnan
Mustafa Badreddine, the brother in-law of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah, is the prime suspect in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. Badreddine replaced Mugniyah as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer after he was killed in a mysterious explosion in Syria on Feb. 12, 2008. The 50-year old is a member of the Hezbollah Shura Council. [emphasis added]

Daily Star
BEIRUT: Four members of Hezbollah, including a senior military commander, were accused Thursday of the 2005 assassination of former statesman Rafik Hariri, as the U.N.-backed court probing the crime issued its first indictment to authorities in Beirut.

State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza confirmed that he had received a sealed indictment from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. A judicial source told The Daily Star that the indictment identified four suspects as Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Oneissy and Asad Sabra.

Badreddine, Hezbollah’s military commander, was accused of masterminding the plot to kill Hariri. Ayyash, another senior party official, was accused of carrying out the attack, the source added. [emphasis added] ((July 1, 2011.))

Carnegie Middle East Center
Moustapha Badreddine and Salim Ayyash are both well-known senior Hezbollah figures. Badreddine is the brother-in-law of Imad Moughnieh, the former head of operations for Hezbollah who was killed a few years ago. [emphasis added] ((Paul Salem Q&A, “Lebanon After the Indictments-The Arab World’s Next Crisis?” July 2, 2011.))


Imad Muyginieh had no known position in the Hezbollah organization. He lived in an apartment in Damascus, Syria with limited protection, and had strange and limited quarters for a person who was considered to be Hezbollah’s commander, military leader, head of operations, and what else?

Google any of the indicted individuals and the results reveal NOTHING, no information on any of them. According to the media, they all held positions in Hezbollah and two of them had important positions. Nevertheless, there is no on-line information on any of them. Where did these “media sources” obtain their contradictory information? Most journals repeated verbatim from the Associated press without checking the veracity of the AP report.

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.