On April 29, 2009, UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon pre-trial Judge Daniel Fransen ordered the release from prison of four Lebanese generals who had been implicated in the 2005 car bombing assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The special tribunal convened on March 1 of this year and the UN took over the case against the four generals from the Lebanese government.
The four generals, who are considered pro-Syrian, were thought by the initial UN investigators and the Lebanese government to have been involved in a conspiracy hatched by Damascus to kill Hariri. However, as WMR previously reported, the evidence against Syria in the assassinations of Hariri and other leading Lebanese politicians was always flimsy. In fact, the assassinations of Lebanese leaders was cooked up by the Bush administration neo-conservatives and their allies in Jerusalem to force the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.
In 2005, under pressure from the Bush administration, a UN investigative committee charged that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence were behind Hariri's assassination. Prior to the release of the four generals, Mohammad Zuhair al-Siddiq, a former Syrian intelligence officer, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates as a suspect in Hariri's assassination.
The four Lebanese generals released were Jamil Sayyad, the chief of Lebanese General Security under the Syrian occupation; Ali al-Hajj, the former chief of the Internal Security Forces; Raymond Azar, the former head of Lebanese Army intelligence; and Mustafa Hamdan, the chief of the Presidential Guard under then-President Emile Lahoud. They were held for four years in prison without charges being brought or even being questioned by prosecutors.
Chief UN prosecutor Daniel Bellemare asked Fransen to drop the case against the "four generals" because a key witness against them retracted his testimony, causing the case to collapse.
Lebanon's Hezbollah welcomed the release of the four generals.
In December 2008, the UN Special Tribunal in a report to the UN Security Council, stated: "Those responsible for the attacks were professional and took extensive measures to cover their tracks and hide their identity. Much of the Commission's activity at this point . . . focuses on piercing this smokescreen to get at the truth."
On October 24, 2006, WMR reported: "A senior French DGSE -- Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure-- intelligence officer has told WMR that Lebanon's ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a car bombing arranged by Israel's Mossad. The revelation from French intelligence is significant as the French government of Jacques Chirac joined the Bush administration and the neo-con policy establishments in Washington and Israel in blaming Syria for the attack. According to the DGSE officer, Israel and its American backers wanted to blame Syria for the assassination of the popular Lebanese leader in order to blame Syria for the attack thus forcing the popular Lebanese revolt that saw the withdrawal of Syrian forces. That left Lebanon defenseless for the 'Clean Break' attack launched by Israel, with US support, against Hezbollah and Lebanon's infrastructure. WMR was one of the first to report Israeli and American involvement in the assassination of Hariri, as well as those of Elie Hobeika, George Hawi, and other Lebanese politicians."
On March 28, 2008, WMR reported: "A UN panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare has concluded that former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a 'criminal networK' and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by the neocon propaganda mill operating out of Washington, DC and Jerusalem. The UN panel said that a 'Hariri Network' had the ex-Prime Minister under surveillance before the Beirut massive car bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people in November 2005. WMR previously reported that the 'criminal network' was composed of Lebanese and rogue Syrian intelligence agents connected to Israel's Mossad and a White House operation run by National Security Council senior staff member Elliott Abrams, the formerly convicted Iran-contra figure."
It is not yet known whether al-Siddiq, the former Syrian intelligence agent arrested in the UAE, is thought to be a member of the criminal network, described by the UN, that killed Hariri.
On March 28, 2008, WMR also stated: "Although for political reasons the UN refrained from identifying the members of the 'criminal element,' WMR has reported it included rogue Syrians, Druze, and Palestinian intelligence operatives in Lebanon, as well as mercenaries linked to now jailed international arms smuggler Viktor Bout and members of the Russian-Israeli 'organizatsiya' criminal syndicate. WMR was criticized by the neocon press when it first reported on the actual elements behind Hariri's assassination and charges of 'anti-Semitism' were the rule rather than the exception."
On November 1, 2005, WMR reported: "WMR has obtained the Confidential version of the Mehlis Report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Mehlis is the Senior Public Prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office in Berlin. He was named Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission into the Hariri assassination. Mehlis is a darling of neocons who served in the Reagan administration. It was his investigation of the 1982 La Belle Discotheque bombing in West Berlin that was used as justification by Reagan to launch a 1986 bombing attack on Libya. Mehlis concluded that Libya was behind the attack conveniently at the same time that pro-Israelis in the Reagan administration, including Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Scooter Libby, and others were calling for an attack on Muammar Qaddafi. The Mehlis Report, dated October 19, 2005, states the Commission 'focused on the crime scene, technical aspects of the crime, analysis of telephone intercepts, the testimony of more than 500 witnesses and sources, as well as the institutional context in which the crime took place.' The confidential copy indicates that certain information, all of which implicates Syria and pro-Syrian Lebanese officials, was added just before the report was issued."
The dropping of all charges against the four generals is yet additional proof that the Mehlis Report was a neocon fraud aimed at destabilizing Lebanon in 2005, forcing the withdrawal of the Syrians from the country, sending Syria a warning to close its border with Iraq to prevent fighters from entering Iraq to fight U.S. occupation troops, and leaving Lebanon wide open for a brutal Israeli attack in 2006. WMR's November 1, 2005 report concluded: "Given all the bogus intelligence emanating from the neo cons and their Israeli, British, Italian, and Iraqi allies prior to the invasion of Iraq, the 'intelligence' contained in the Mehlis Report, which may have been placed therein by unconfirmed US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and his staff, makes the charges against Syria highly dubious."
The dropping of the charges against the four generals is seen as a boost the electoral chances for Hezbollah in June elections. Currently, Lebanon is governed by a pro-U.S. and anti-Syrian government led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The nationalistic and anti-Israeli opposition primarily consists of the Shi'a-dominated Hezbollah and an influential Christian faction led by retired General Michel Aoun.
On April 1, 2005, the a U.S. State Department neocon propaganda unit, referring to this editor as a "self-described journalist," attacked the reports about Hariri being assassinated by U.S. and Israeli interests. The Obama administration continues to maintain the Bush-era State Department propaganda website that attacks journalists who cite American crimes and malfeasance in other countries.