BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
The targeted assassination of Brig. General Wissam Al-Hassan, the Intelligence Chief of Lebanon’s Security Service, was a reminder of how fast the war in Syria is spreading to its neighbors in the region. On Friday, a powerful explosion triggered by a bomb rocked a Christian neighborhood in the capital city Beirut causing chaos and commotion reminiscent of the one last seen during the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The blast which damaged buildings and properties in its way, led to the death of at least eight people including the Security Chief. More than eighty people were estimated badly wounded in an explosion which many believed had the hallmark of the Syrian regime of Al Assad. Those who think the blast was an attempt by the Syrian regime to divert world attention from the war in its country did not waste time to point the blame where they concluded it belonged. However, why General Al-Hassan was specifically targeted, did not come as a surprise to many privy of the role he played in exposing the Syrian regime, since the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The timeline for the reason why General Hassan, was assassinated can be traced back to the events that ensued after the assassination of Rafik Hariri. General Hassan as a Security Chief for Mr. Hariri was initially held as a suspect in the killing of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, but was later instrumental in building a case based on phone records with evidence that linked the killing to Hezbollah, a militant Lebanese Shiite group and the Syrian regime. Hezbollah which is known as a strong supporter of the Syrian government denied the allegations however, the investigation created a rivalry between Hezbollah in collaboration with the Syrian government on one side and General Hassan and the Lebanese Government on the other.
The investigation into the killing of Rafik Hariri, by General Hassan led to the conclusion that Syria was responsible since Mr. Hariri, was an enemy of Mr. Assad. Syria was widely blamed and the protests generated by the killing led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The withdrawal damaged Syria’s hold and influence on the region and the aftermath was a series of bombings, targeting Lebanese politicians and security officials, believed to be instrumental in driving Syrian troops away from Lebanon. In 2008, Mr. Wissam al-Eid a security official known to have helped in compiling the phone records that linked the Syrian regime and Hezbollah to the killing of Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bombing to send a message that the Syrian apparatus still had its hold on Lebanon.
Based on New York Times report of October 20, 2012, General Hassan, recently, before his assassination, arrested Michel Samaha, a known pro-Syrian politician on charges of importing explosives in a bid to set off bombs and wreck sectarian havoc as part of a Syrian led plot. The move triggered outrage in Damascus and may have played a part in his killing on Friday. In fact, some in the Lebanese Security Forces believe General Hassan was assassinated because of his role in Samaha’s arrest.
The magnitude of the bombing in Beirut and the targeted nature of the killing may have been directed by the Syrian regime, based on views in the streets of Lebanon. The timing couldn’t have been more precise at a time when the Syrian regime is doing everything within its power to suppress opposition insurrection against its rule. General Hassan paid with his life because of his role as a government backed security official, who was keen on ending the Syrian influence and hold on Lebanon. As a member of the Internal Security Forces seen as allied with Sunni anti-Syrian regime, he was a threat to the House of Assad and the only way Damascus could hold onto power is to shut down opposition and trigger chaos in the Middle East.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E.JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a newly published fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.