Did You Say, "No Evidence"?

Antiwar's Justin Raimondo has taken Tim Cavanaugh and me to task for our views on the Hariri assassination. Fair enough, but he does quote me in a way where clarification is in order.

He writes: "Young reiterated ... 'Certainly, the mood is very clearly that Syria did this. Syria will be blamed for it no matter who did it. They'll be even more isolated internationally than they already are.' Translation: Never mind the facts. Damascus must pay."

For the record, his conclusion implies there is no evidence that Syria killed Hariri, and that I wouldn't search for exoneration anyway. Had Raimondo been in Beirut talking to people, instead of at his desk digging up URLs, he might have known that both Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, were well aware that they were threatened by Syria, and discussed this openly together and with foreign officials on numerous occasions (the same officials also warning them of the danger from Syria); he might have known that Marwan Hamadi, who was almost killed by a car-bomb last October, has repeatedly declared Syria and the Lebanese state responsible for the attack; Raimondo might have known that a majority of Sunni officials close to Hariri, who four days ago would not have uttered a single word against Syria, are now openly accusing it of his killing.

Of course, the answer might be: Well what do they know? It might all be a scheme to blacken Syria. Perhaps, but it might be worth remembering that Syria has a long record of rubbing out its enemies in Lebanon (and invariably denying this afterwards). There were numerous reasons for killing Hariri, most prominently the fact that he was probably going to formally join the Lebanese opposition. This would have almost certainly tipped the balance in Lebanon decisively against the Syrian presence, and likely brought down the pro-Syrian Lebanese government--and with it, I suspect, Assad's stumbling regime.

Incidentally, one of the rare truths one has in life is knowledge of who wants to kill you.

There is also additional evidence, backed up by a growing number of bomb experts here (alas we have more than our fair share), pointing not to a suicide bombing (please Justin, doubt that fairy story being put out by the Lebanese interior ministry), but to a bomb placed under the road--suggesting a far more complex plot than the one being peddled, quite unconvincingly, by the state.

In the end, a duck is a duck, though, and Raimondo's problem is not really with Tim or me, but with the neocons and Israel. That's where I'll stop, because what concerns me is something far simpler and more parochial, namely whether Lebanon--as close to a liberal society as the Middle East has had--can regain that status by removing from its territory the army and intelligence services of one of the region's most illiberal regimes.

Which reminds me: My friend Ammar Abdulhamid, who was the subject of a profile in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday, has just started a blog. Those who think that Bashar Assad is a darling next to Paul Wolfowitz might want to take a look. (And Ammar happens to be one of the luckier ones.)

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  • ||

    "has taken Tim Cavanaugh and I to task "
    "is not really with Tim or I"

    No editors working today?

  • ||

    One seems to be ... corrected

  • ||

    Of course Young still fails to address why, even given that the Syrians wanted Hariri out of the way, they would do it in such a spectacular manner, so that there could be no doubt it was an assassination. Hariri wasn't elderly of course, but equally heart attacks and strokes aren't uncommon for a 61 year old man (I can't find anything on if he might also have been a smoker). If the Syrians were going to kill him, why not do it in a more subtle way?

    Also, while trying to find Hariri's age, I ran across this website: http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2004_06_01_angryarab_archive.html

    If readers scroll down to the *June 20, 2004* entry, they'll find the author (a Lebanese immigrant to the US) denouncing Hariri as "a tool of the House of Saud". Not conclusive of course, but it suggests that there actually are people who share the opinion of Hariri recited by the group that claimed responsibility.

  • ||

    If the Syrians were going to kill him, why not do it in a more subtle way?

    Maybe because they're a bunch of evil barbarians?

  • gaius marius||

    Maybe because they're a bunch of evil barbarians?

    that's certainly what paul wolfowitz would say.

    fwiw, the fair thing to say is that there is insufficient evidence to be conclusive. so whoever is shooting off about whodunnit now is exposing their prejudice, plain and simple.

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    A while ago Raimundo was spouting off confidently that Yuschenko had not been poisoned and attacking anyone who suspected he had been. He's not someone to be taken seriously.

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    Mr. Young, have you heard the rumor that Hariri was an illegitimate son of King Fahd?

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    The following is from Gordon Thomas' book, "Gideon's Spies":


    In July 1973, at the height of the manhunt for the killers of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Mossad received a top that the "Red prince" Ali Hassan Salameh, who had planned the operation, was working in the small Norwegian town of Lillehammer as a waiter.

    Mossad's then director, Michael Harari, had put together a team not drawn from the Kidon unit; its members were scattered across the world chasing the remaining terrorists who had carried out the Munich killings.

    The first to die had been standing in the lobby of his Rome apartment when he was shot eleven times for at close range - a bullet for each murdered athlete. When the next to die answered the telephone in his Paris apartment, his head was blown off by a small bomb planted in the receiver and triggered by remote control. Another was asleep in a hotel room in Nicosia (Cyprus) when it was wrecked by a similar bomb. To create panic among the remaining members of the Black September group, Mossad Arab "sayanim" arranged for their obituaries to appear in local Arab newspapers. Their families received flowers and condolence cards shortly before each was killed.

    [Several years later] Rafi Eitan, (the infamous and brutal Mossad terrorist) set about finding and killing their leader Ali Hassan Salameh. Eitan returned to Tel Aviv and made his plans. Three Mossad agents who could pass for Arabs crossed into Lebanon and entered the city. One rented a car. The second wired a series of bombs into its chasis, roof, and door panels. The third agent parked the car along the route the "red Prince" traveled to his office every morning. Using precise timing Rafi Eitan had provided, the car was set to explode as Salameh passed. It did, blowing him to pieces.

    [Back in Lillehammer] Harari's team had no field experience, but he was confident his own background as a katsa in Europe was sufficient. His team included two women, Sylvia Rafael and Marianne Gladnikoff.

    The operation had run into disaster from the outset. The arrival of a dozen strangers in Lillehammer, where there had not been a murder for forty years, aroused speculation. The local police began to watch them. Officers were close by when Harari and his team shot dead a Moroccan waiter named Ahmed Bouchiki, who has no connection to terrorism and did not even physically resemble Salameh. Harari and some of his squad managed to escape. but six Mossad operatives were captured, including both women.

    They made full confessions, revealing for the first time Mossad's assassination methods and other equally embarrassing details about the service's clandestine activities. The women, together with their male colleagues, were charged with second degree murder and jailed for 5 years. (After "pressure" from Israel, all were released within 11 months).



    Sounds like a carbon copy incident . . .

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    Orange Claw Hammer wrote: "A while ago Raimundo [sic] was spouting off confidently that Yuschenko had not been poisoned and attacking anyone who suspected he had been. He's not someone to be taken seriously."

    So if someone is unequivocally correct, he shouldn't be taken seriously... Fascinating. Or are you arguing that a professional assassin would try to kill Yuschenko with an easily detectable toxin that virtually never results in death?

  • Cybrludite||

    Jack,

    So, the bortcht just happened to be made with just of the beets tainted with dioxin due to eviromental happenstance, and the entirety of the dose ended up in Yuschenko's bowl by some weird, kooky quirk of fate? Maybe there were some old leaky transformers stored in the attic, and it just happened to drip into Yuschenko's soup?

    More likely they chose something disfiguring, but not lethal to send a message to other reformers. "Mess with us, and we'll jack you up. It don't matter who you are. We can reach you." Dead, Yuschencko would have been a martyr. Looks like their plan was to leave him a disfigured freak who lost (a badly rigged) election.

  • ||

    There's gonna be a lot of speculations - some justified others way off. As an observer, the prepared statements that Israel, US admin and many Lebanese "opposition" figures had planned at the onset of the assasination, all united in blaming the Syrians for the murder, may clear the confusion as to who did it. I feel, again I am looking at this as an outsider, the parties that stand to benefit from 1) liquidating a prominent figure like Hariri, who according to recent reports was working his hardest to convince France and the Europeans against including Hizbulla on their terrorist list and who seemed to play a major behind the scenes role in mending fences between the Palestinian Authority and the resistance factions not to mention his role in convincing the Sunnis in Iraq to take part in the political arena; and 2) pointing the finger at Syria and fueling popular sentiments in Lebanon against their presence in the country, thus leading to the weakining of the Syrian regime, which will be viewed by its people as a weak link that is ripe for disposal.

    Having said that, I doubt that Syria's leadership is as naive as simple minded "analysts" try to portray it to be. This leadership that is viewed by many as cunning and strong in maneuvering between political land mines, which were placed to it during the past three decades.

    Also, can anyone tell me how they "analyze" Bowchers' first statement, where he called on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, stop interfering in Iraqi and Palestinian affairs!!! If he is to blame Syria for the assasination, then he would've concentrated on the blame and not on including remarks about Iraq and Palestine. To me, the issue to the US and Israel is not to "liberate" Lebanon from Syria's "occupation" but to down size Syria role in Iraq (first and foremost) and then to push Syria to leave the PA alone to be galloped by Israel's sharks.

    Food for Thought!!!

  • ||

    The only ones to gain from the assassination of Hariri are The US and Israel. They all like an unstable Arab world while Israel pillages Palestine and rapes the original inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinians.

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