Wikileaks: “General Rifi is convinced that Syrian authorities are directly responsible for all three crimes,” said a cable classified by Jeremy Feltman

Rifi alleged Ghamloush linked to Kassir, Hawi killings – cable
ISF chief told US ambassador suspect fled to Syria to live under protection of Syrian authorities
By Patrick Galey and Richard Hall, Dec. 4, 2010, Daily Star (Thanks to T_Desco for sending this)

An alleged Hizbullah operative linked by recent media reports to the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was named in 2006 as the prime suspect in the assassinations of journalist Samir Kassir and politician George Hawi, according to leaked diplomatic documents seen by The Daily Star.

In a 2006 meeting with US representatives in Beirut, Internal Security Forces (ISF) chief Ashraf Rifi said Abdel-Majid Ghamloush killed Kassir and Hawi before fleeing Lebanon to live in Syria under Syrian protection. Ghamloush was also accused of the attempted killing of ISF deputy intelligence chief Samir Shehadeh.

“General Rifi is convinced that Syrian authorities are directly responsible for all three crimes,” said a cable classified by US Secretary of State Jeremy Feltman and seen exclusively by The Daily Star. “Rifi said the investigation conclusively concluded that [Abdel-] Majid Ghamloush, a Lebanese citizen from the Shiite community in south Lebanon was responsible for the Hawi and Kassir assassinations.

“General Rifi believes the successful identification of a culprit was the motive for the assassination attempt on the life of ISF’s Deputy Chief of Intelligence Samir Shehadeh on September 5, 2006 just outside of [Sidon],” Feltman wrote. “Before the suspect could be apprehended, however, he successfully fled to Syria and is currently believed to be living there under the protection of the Syrian regime.”

Kassir and Hawi, both outspoken critics of Syria’s influence in Lebanon, were assassinated in separate June 2005 car bomb attacks in Beirut as part of the wave of political killings that shook the country beginning in 2004.

The ISF chief indicated that Hizbullah knew that both attacks were coming.

“Rifi also stated that some of the evidence indicated ‘several’ of the acts of political violence that were committed in late 2004 and throughout 2005 are connected. The general did not mince words when he stated that Syrian and Iranian involvement is a given,” Feltman wrote. “He did not directly implicate Hizbullah, but said the fact that a radicalized member of the Shia community from south Lebanon committed the crime indicates Hizbullah should have at least been aware of the plan.”
(…)

The STL, as well as the initial United Nations International Independent Investigation Committee (UNIIIC) probe, is mentioned on numerous occasions in cables seen by The Daily Star.

Some will fuel claims that the STL is politicized. In a cable dated July 6, 2007, Minister of Justice Charles Rizk appeared to ask Feltman to pass on Lebanon’s preferred choice of tribunal judges.

“Rizk would like us to whisper quietly to UN officials which four are Lebanon’s preferred choices out of the twelve judicial nominations,” it read.

Rizk reportedly told Feltman that he was trying to delay the release of the four Lebanese generals held in connection with the assassination, due to the “devastating impact their release would have on March 14 morale.”

In a cable dated June 20, 2006, UNIIIC Commissioner Serge Bremmertz reportedly expressed concerns that evidence against the jailed generals was not strong enough to justify their continued detention. It also alleged that the attorney of Jamil Sayyed planned to approach a host of party leaders with the offer that if Sayyed was released from prison, he would leave Lebanon within 24 hours.
The Daily Star, December 04, 2010

T_Desco writes about the Figaro article of Georges Malbrunot, 5 décembre 2010

Malbrunot: “Selon nos informations, le kamikaze, lui, serait saoudien.”

T_Desco writes: “I thought that Bellemare was supposed to be the source of that information, but that seems unlikely, given that he didn’t even share such details with the Americans. the main point is, in my view, that the suicide bomber was Saudi and that Salafi extremists played a direct role in the assassination. Malbrunot then goes on to paint the picture of a wild conspiracy, also involving Hizbullah, the Presidential Guard etc…

Added in the comment section by Why Discuss:

Was Ghamloush a technician, a efficient operative or an “idiot”, or all of that?

“Eid was apparently able to penetrate the secret network thanks to the gross mistake of a small fish in the operation: electronics expert Abd al Majid al Ghamloush, who worked for Hezbollah. Ghamloush, identified by the investigators as”an idiot”, was responsible for destroying the mobiles of the logistics team, but he used one of the phone to call his girlfriend.”

The technician’s error allowed Eid, according to CBC, to point to brothers Hussein and Mouin Khreis, both Hezbollah militants, who were allegedly at the scene of the assassination on 14 February 2005.

Guardian (GB): US embassy cables: Lebanon uncovered ‘Iranian-funded’ Hizbullah communications network
2010-12-05
Wikileaks: Wednesday, 16 April 2008, Beirut, Sison

……..10. (S) Hamadeh highlights the system as a strategic victory for Iran, since it creates an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon, bypassing Syria. He sees the value for the Iranians as strategic, rather than technical or economic. The value for Hizballah is the final step in creating a nation state. Hizballah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system. As a sign of its confidence Hizballah official Safa told Khoury and Rifi that any move against the FiOS system would be taken as &an Israeli attack8 and dealt with accordingly. When Khoury and Rifi pointed out that the people in the area might not accept this and might show hostility to Hizballah in this case, Safa replied, &We don’t care; we will accept hostile reactions.8 At that point, according to Hamadeh, the GOL decided it needed to inform its friends and make a decision on the next steps to be taken.

HAMADEH PREPARES INTERNAL CAMPAIGN

11. (S) Meanwhile, Hamadeh is preparing a &very strong8 internal campaign. This campaign, he said, has the potential to &destroy8 Aoun and mobilize Christians, as well as influence those Shia who are already beginning to worry about Hizballah. He is waiting for a March 14 meeting to discuss this campaign. Saad has apparently traveled to London and Geneva this week, and is expected to be back in Riyadh by 4/20. Saad has been out of Lebanon for some several weeks and it is not known when he will return. Hamadeh sees only two choices for the GOL: approach the UN Security Council directly, or take on Hizballah by cutting lines. But do the Lebanese security forces have the “guts” for that, or are they frightened by Safa’s statement that those actions would be considered an act of aggression, he wonders…..

Israel on Iran: So wrong for so long
By Justin Elliott in Salon.com

Officials at the U.S. Department of State, we learned from the secret cables released by WikiLeaks last week, have serious questions about the accuracy — and sincerity — of Israeli predictions about when Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon. As one State official wrote in response to an Israeli general’s November 2009 claim that Iran would have a bomb in one year: “It is unclear if the Israelis firmly believe this or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States.”

So we thought this was as good a time as any to look at the remarkable history of incorrect Israeli predictions about Iran — especially given that the WikiLeaks trove is being used to argue that an attack on Iran is becoming more likely.

According to various Israeli government predictions over the years, Iran was going to have a bomb by the mid-90s — or 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, and finally 2010. More recent Israeli predictions have put that date at 2011 or 2014…..

Comments (2)


1. t_desco said:

France protecting Siddiq?

Hariri investigation was bogged down by ‘insane’ bureaucracy, non-cooperation from world powers
Brammertz said it was obvious the 14 bombings were linked to the Hariri assassination
By Patrick Galey
(…)

Turning to the issue of international cooperation with investigator’s requests, Brammertz alleged that France – a long-time vocal supporter of the probe into Hariri’s death – had been particularly “flatly non-cooperative.”

“After Brammertz asked this country’s ambassador in Lebanon for access to interview a suspect in that country’s territory (Siddiq; t_d), the ambassador came back with all kinds of conditions about how the interview would take place, how the testimony could or could not be used, in order to comply with EU standards. Brammertz said, ‘I told him, if you were Syria, I would write in my report that you refused to cooperate with the investigation. He was shocked, of course, but it’s true. I’ve had better cooperation from Syria than some of the EU countries.’”

In an earlier meeting with Feltman on July 6, 2006 – 16 months after Hariri’s death and over a year after the investigation began – Brammertz is said to have advised that there was no legal basis for the four generals’ continued detention.

“Brammertz explained that, if any sort of international legal standards were applied, the four generals would be released immediately. At the same time, however, he acknowledged that doing so would be a political disaster for Lebanon,” a cable on the meeting read.

Brammertz, who succeeded Detlev Mehlis as UNIIIC commissioner, reportedly labeled three now-discredited witnesses – whose testimonies were used in the four generals’ incarceration – as completely unreliable. He suggested Mehlis had overstepped his jurisdiction in advising the four be detained.

“Brammertz said that much of his work, though, is focused on completing three ‘legacy projects,’ final appraisals of the testimony provided by Zuhair Mohammad Siddiq, Hussam Hussam, and ‘X,’ a ‘protected witness located in a Nordic country,’” Feltman’s cable said.

“As he prepared his final evaluation of each witness, Brammertz said he could discount most of the testimony from all three. Maybe 20 percent of Siddiq’s testimony was based on fact, Brammertz suggested, but his credibility as a witness is so low that none of his testimony would stand up in court. He described Hussam also as an unreliable witness, but suggested that he probably does have important information.”

Brammertz also apparently ruled out the Syrian government’s involvement in the crime – a startling confession given the relatively early stage of the investigations of the UNIIIC.

“Syria has five different state security apparatuses. I can’t imagine that an order came down from the president and worked its way through all the security services and until they killed Hariri,” Brammertz is quoted as saying. “If anything, you probably had one security service involved, and the order came from on high and, how high, we’ll have to figure out.”

In a separate cable detailing the arguments of Jamil as-Sayyed’s lawyer, the US Embassy advised: “That Brammertz is worried about [Lebanon’s] continued ability to detain the four generals is cause for us to worry as well.”

The cable continued: “Besides having a seismic effect on the political situation here, Sayyed’s release might well have security implications for us as a diplomatic missions. If Sayyed gets out, he is going to be angry and seeking payback, and he is going to see the United States as at least partly responsible for his interrogation by the UNIIIC and his long months in detention.”
(…)

Although no comment is made in the cables by Feltman on Brammertz’s request, the frequent mention of US intelligence operations in Lebanon is likely to further fuel debate over the impartiality of the UN investigations into Hariri’s death, as well as cast aspersions on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) – a court long subjected to allegations of politicization.

In the same meeting, Nicholson reportedly informed Feltman that data from the crime scene was being sent to the United States’ FBI.

“Nicholson provided emboffs [embassy officials] with DNA profiles of suspected Hariri bomber Ahmad Abu Adass and Adass’ family members, as well as DNA analysis of an unidentified “John Doe” found at the February 14 blast site, [officials have] sent these profiles back to FBI headquarters for further analysis,” the cable said.
(…)

“[Brammertz] said that the UNIIIC has collected hundreds of phone numbers from the calling records of six Tripoli cell phones associated with the February 14, 2005, assassination of Hariri,” one cable said.

“He also said that the UNIIIC is conducting interviews with members of the ‘Naba cell,’ Sunni militants detained by the ISF (Internal Security Forces) in May. Brammertz said that the detained suspects still have not been formally charged by Lebanese authorities. As a result, they have had no contact with defense attorneys.”
(…)

Feltman wrote that Brammertz had even advocated regime change in Lebanon in order to coax suspects into talking. “Brammertz continued that another development that could facilitate witnesses coming forward would be a change in the [Emile] Lahoud presidency,” the cable said.
The Daily Star, December 06, 2010

(m. emph.)

BTW, my previous post must somehow have ended up with the ‘tinned ham’, could you please release it? Thanks.

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December 6th, 2010, 2:58 pm

 

2. why-discuss said:

WIKILEAKS: Marwan Hamadeh plotting to destroy the Hezbollah network and accusing Syria and Iran.

http://46.59.1.2/cable/2008/04/08BEIRUT523.html


¶3. (S) While the confrontation over the FiOS system was taking place with Hizballah, mobile telecommunications were being subject to interference by Syria in the north, Israel in the south and possibly by the UN at sea, according to Hamadeh. The information about Israeli interference was passed &unofficially8 by UNIFIL, since, in a recurring complaint by Hamadeh during the conversation, the LAF has not reported any problems officially. The Syrian interference is similar to that occurring during the Nahr al-Barid fighting, and highlights the ability of the Syrians to communicate within Lebanon through non-Lebanese mobile systems. Because the system in the part of Syria bordering on northern Lebanon is a private company, MTM, Hamadeh believes that they offer political cover to the Syrian government, who he nevertheless believes is behind the problem. Hamadeh views these events as part of the same strategic interference in Lebanon, both internally and externally. Hamadeh has a map that delineates
BEIRUT 00000523 002 OF 004
the interference, in an arc that runs from the north to the south of Lebanon.

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December 6th, 2010, 4:30 pm

 

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