The 21st Century Phenomenon



Three judges from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon UN-STL handed over to General Lebanese Prosecutor Saeed Mirza, on Thursday 06/30/2011, a copy of the indictment in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination case.   The indictment urges Lebanese authorities to issue arrest warrants against four Lebanese that are close to Hizbullah, media reports said.


According to the reports, the suspects are 1. Salim Jamil Ayyash, 48, 2. Hassan Issa oneissi, 37, 3. Assad Hassan Sabra, 35, both from Beirut, and Mustafa Badr al-Din, who is known as Sami Issa. He is the relative of Hizbullah’s slain military commander Imad Mughniyah.  


Salim Jamil Ayyash (1), also known as Abu Haj Salim, was born in 1963 in Lebanon in the southern town of Harouf.  Salim Ayysah is a Civil Defense volunteer and a member of Hizbullah. According to some sources he also holds an American passport.  

According to an arrest warrant issued by the – Special Tribunal Lebanon – UN-STL in late 06/2011, Salim Ayyash is one of the four main suspects in the Assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, on 02/14/2005. The reports said that Salim Ayyash was the leader of the network that planned and executed Rafik Hariri. He operated under the instruction of Mustafa Badr al-Din. 



The findings of the tribunal had been for months the subject of wide speculation in Lebanon and there was fear that accusation of Hizbullah members of involvement in Hariri’s murder could spark sectarian unrest. 


The STL, the first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism, opened its doors in Leidschendam, near The Hague, on 03/01/2009.  

STL President Antonio Cassese wrote in an annual report in March that he hoped the court would start at least pre-trial and some trial proceedings this year. 


Lebanon, according to experts, now has 30 days to serve out the arrest warrants. If the suspects are not arrested within that period, the STL will then make public the indictment and summon the suspects to appear before the court. 


On Thursday 06/16/2011 Former chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering the assassination Rafik Hariri for allegedly seeking to topple his regime.

Mehlis said in an interview with the German radio Deutsche Welle that Assad ordered Hariri’s Feb. 2005 killing after Damascus “suspected that he was seeking to topple the Syrian regime and disarm Hizbullah in cooperation with France and U.S.” He said that witness testimonies confirmed that the “structure of the regime in Syria doesn’t allow carrying out such crimes without orders from Assad.”

On Monday 06/27/2011, London-based al-Sharq al Awsat that five high ranking Hezbollah officials were expected to be indicted by the special tribunal. The report added that once the indictments are released, the identities of the accused will be kept secret for a short period in order to allow the Lebanese government to investigate and arrest them.


The indictments put to the test the new Hizbullah controlled Lebanese government headed by Najib Mikati, which was sworn in just 2 weeks ago, on 06/13/2011, after 5 months of political standoff in Lebanon (see – American Setback ). 


* According to the STL indictment, published on Wednesday 08/17/2011, the four suspects are all members of Hezbollah. The documents describe a network of phones, which have been colour-coded to highlight their different functions, that is alleged to have been used by the suspects in coordinating the assassination. 


The indictment claims that Mustafa Badr AL-din served as the overall supervisor  of the attack an assassination team consisting of Salim Ayyash and others positioned themselves in several locations where they were able to track and observe Hariri’s movements, something they had been doing on several occasions prior to the attack.


The indictment went on to say that after the explosion Hassan oneissi and Assad Sabra called Reuters and Al Jazeera, informing the latter on where to find a video tape that had been placed in a tree near ESCWA in Beirut. The video, which was aired on television, showed a man, Ahmad Abu Adass, claim to be the suicide bomber on behalf of a fictions extremist group. 


“Oneissi and Sabra, in addition to being conspirators, prepared and delivered the false claim of responsibility video, which sought to blame the wrong people, in order to shield the conspirators from justice” the indictment said. 


Investigators admit that the evidence gathered is largely circumstantial, primarily because it is based on phone networks. 


* On 10/10/2013 the STL has indicted Hassan Habib Merhi (4) as a fifth suspect and issued* an arrest warrant against him. 



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