The Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization has flatly denied a secret report by the United Nations accusing it of being behind the 2005 assassination of anti-Syrian Lebanese leader Rafik al-Hariri. The allegations, reported Saturday in the German Der Spiegel magazine, were countered by Hizbullah officials in an interview published Sunday by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anbaa.
Nasrallah called the allegations by unnamed sources quoted in the report "stupid" and said the charges were "fabricated" in order to influence Lebanese voters to cast their ballots away from Hizbullah's candidates.
The U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination refused to comment on the report.
If it is true, Syria stands to benefit after having been fingered by an earlier U.N. panel as the responsible party for the massive and gruesome bombing in Beirut that killed al-Hariri, a former prime minister, and 22 others. However, Syrian has not been ruled out as being involved in the attack.
Hizbullah is also suspected of being behind the murder of Captain Wissam Eid, a key investigator for the U.N. tribunal, in an apparent effort to interfere with the probe.
Although Hizbullah’s motives are not known, the group was not happy with al-Hariri, a billionaire construction tycoon who had been planning to re-enter politics and lead the anti-Syrian faction that wants to free Lebanon from outside influences, including the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah terrorist organization.
Syria had been suspected for the same reasons, particularly after al-Hariri demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad withdraw thousands of Syrian soldiers from Lebanese soil.
A U.N. investigating team formed in 2005 concluded that Syria was responsible. Its report led to the arrest of four high-ranking officials who were either part of Syria’s security forces or worked with Syria through the Lebanese government. However, the masterminds were never found.
A new special U.N. panel is conducting an investigation so secret that the identity of some of its members is not known. Last month, the tribunal ordered the release of the four suspects who had been incarcerated in Lebanon for the past three years.
Der Spiegel said it has viewed parts of the report in the hands of the unidentified sources. The information includes details of the work of Captain Eid, who traced to Hizbullah the cellular phones that were bought on the same day, activated six weeks before the bloody assassination and were used only for communicating with each other and were not used after the bombing – with one exception.
That exception enabled the investigators to track down Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, who used his phone to call his girl friend. He has mysteriously disappeared.
Further investigation led the tribunal to find the suspected mastermind of the attack, Hazz Salim, a commander of a Hizbullah cell who lives in southern Beirut and reports directly to Hizbullah’s chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
Der Spiegel’s sources also said the investigators apparently know which Hizbullah terrorist obtained the truck used in the bombing and traced the origins of the more than one ton of explosives used in the attack.
The publication of the suspicions against Hizbullah comes less than three weeks before Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, in which Hizbullah expects to score significant gains that might give its pro-Syrian coalition a tighter grip on the country.