Mike Pompeo
Mike PompeoReuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the United States welcomed the conviction by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon of Hezbollah member Salim Ayyash in connection with conspiring to kill former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in a 2005 bombing.

“This act of terrorism also claimed the lives of 21 additional victims and resulted in injuries to 226 others. Although Ayyash remains at large, the STL’s ruling underscores the importance of rendering justice and ending impunity, which is imperative to ensuring Lebanon’s security, stability, and sovereignty,” Pompeo said in a statement.

He pointed out “Ayyash’s conviction helps confirm what the world is increasingly recognizing—that Hezbollah and its members are not defenders of Lebanon as they claim to be but constitute a terrorist organization dedicated to advancing Iran’s malign sectarian agenda.”

“As the Lebanese people suffer through a crushing economic crisis, Hezbollah’s exploitation of Lebanon’s financial system, its degradation of Lebanese institutions, and its provocative and dangerous actions threaten the Lebanese people and jeopardize Lebanon’s financial well-being and potential recovery. As I have said many times before, Hezbollah’s terrorist and illicit activities in Lebanon and throughout the world demonstrate that it is more concerned with its own interests and those of its patron, Iran, than what is best for Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” concluded the Secretary of State.

Ayyash was found guilty by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the suicide truck bombing in which Hariri was assassinated. 21 other people were killed and 226 people were wounded in the attack.

Three other Hezbollah members, Assad Sabra, Hassan Oneissi, and Hassan Habib Merhi were acquitted by the tribunal in the murder of Hariri.

The accused are still at large, as Lebanon has said it cannot locate them. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed never to turn them in. The terror group has dismissed the court as a US-Israeli conspiracy.