Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah vowed to never hand over the four men indicted by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Lebanon Daily Star reports.
Nasrallah's intransigence in the face of the indictment implicating four Hizbullah terrorists in the Hariri assassination is likely to embarrass Lebanon's new government, which has promised to respect its international obligations.
In a typically fiery speech delivered two days after the long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants were issued, Nasrallah dismissed the tribunal as an “American-Israeli court,” saying Lebanese authorities will not be able to arrest the four suspects “even in 300 years.”
“They cannot find or arrest the accused in 30 days or 60 days, 30 years or 300 years,” Nasrallah said, insisting the suspects had already been tried in abstentia. “The sentence is finished and has been issued in advance.”
Lebanon has thirty days to arrest the indictees under its STL-obligations.
“This tribunal, along with its decisions and findings, is in our view clearly an American-Israeli [tribunal]," Nasrallah opined on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television on Saturday. "Based on this, we reject it, and its invalid accusations and invalid rulings, which we consider aggression against us and against our resistance fighters – and an injustice against the honor of this [Islamic] nation."
Last year Nasrallah, who has repeatedly denied his party’s involvement in the massive suicide truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on February 14, 2005, threatened to “cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest any Hizbillah member.
Nasrallah confirmed the four suspects are Hizbullah members.
"They are brothers who have an honorable history in resisting the Israeli occupation,” he said while reiterating they would not be arrested.
“Don’t ask the Mikati government to do what the Hariri government could not do. Had the government been headed by Hariri or Siniora, would it be able to arrest these people or carry out the arrest warrants? It would not and we all know this … they cannot find or arrest the accused.”
Nasrallah justified his refusal to cooperate with the STL, saying it was an American-Israeli cats paw seeking to sow discord in Lebanon.
"Do you expect this tribunal to be fair with resistance fighters who fought against Israel?” Nasrallah asked. “This tribunal, since the beginning, was formed for a clear political target.
"This indictment is aimed at tarnishing the image of the resistance and its members and holy warriors and weakening the resistance fighters’ determination. The most dangerous objective is to incite strife between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. These are the main objectives [of the indictment],” Nasrallah claimed. “There will not be sectarian strife in Lebanon, or between Sunnis and Shiites.”
Nasrallah assured his followers there were be no sectarian strife even as he resisted “this unjust accusation against our brothers.”
“Don’t worry," he told them. "This is part of the war we have been waging together since the establishment of the [Israeli] entity on the land of Palestine and attacks on Lebanon. This is part of a psychological and media war,” Nasrallah said.
“They want us to spiral into an internal confrontation. In order to protect our country, our people, security, stability and civil peace, we must be patient with provocations, even though the biggest provocation has happened through this unjust accusation against our brothers.”