Lebanese opposition figures on Saturday accused the Hizbullah-led government of involvement in Friday's car bomb murder of General Wissam al-Hassan, the internal intelligence chief who uncovered a Syria-linked plot to carry out deadly bombings in the north of Lebanon.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea told Al Arabiya that “Wissam al-Hassan was killed because he stopped Michel Samaha and because he was possibly the one responsible or among those security officials who follow things to the end and uncover some of the plots that take place.”
Former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha is a pro-Syrian Lebanese figure who was arrested in August and accused of plotting a terrorist attack on behalf of the Syrian regime in the north of the country.
Hassan arrested Samaha at his home and police found explosives which investigators alleged were to be used in a series of attacks in northern Lebanon to spark unrest in the country.
Geagea said Friday's bombing was “a powerful blow for the state, for the Lebanese people as whole; a powerful security blow for the current government.”
“If it still has any feeling of nationalism, sovereignty and protecting the country, the government needs to see what it can do,” he said.
“If there was no kind of cover-up, no one could have succeeded to assassinate Wissam al-Hassan. And if there was no security breach in the highest levels of the state, they would not have succeeded to do this.”
Geagea told Al Arabiya al-Hassan had “moved around with exceptional security measures” and had sent his wife and children to Paris because he “knew he was a target.”
Analysts agreed that the murder of al-Hassan appeared to show that even in its weakened state, Syria could still take action on the ground.
"Hassan was targeted daily by pro-Syrian newspapers in Lebanon, and Damascus accused him of aiding rebels hostile to (President) Bashar al-Assad," said Ghassan al-Azzi, a politics professor at Beirut's Lebanese University.
"Damascus detested him above all for catching red-handed with explosives Lebanon's former information minister Michel Samaha, the most pro-Syrian of Syria's allies," he told AFP.
The bombing was the most serious to hit the capital since Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination and prompted Sunni Muslims to take to streets across the country, burning tires and blocking roads in a show of anger.
Hariri’s son, Saad al-Hariri, accused Assad of being behind Friday's bombing, while Lebanon’s opposition March 14 bloc called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government, which includes ministers from Hizbullah, to resign over the bombing.
Gen. al-Hassan will be buried Sunday next to Hariri's tomb in Beirut, Future Movement sources told The Daily Star over the weekend.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik Hariri and the head of the Future Movement, described Hassan Friday as a close friend to his family.