Fida’ Itani and Rafiq Hariri

From 10 October onwards, Fida’ Itani, a well-known Lebanese journalist writing primarily about jihadism in Lebanon, published a series of articles in al-Akhbar containing transcripts of the interrogation of an arrested Saudi jihadi, Faisal Akbar, who has been confessing (three different versions of) his involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. He claimed to be working in close cooperation with al-Qaeda’s Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. The publication of the articles was stringently decried by the Lebanese government. Nibras Kazimi, a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, on his blog Talisman Gate, has published a translation of the interrogations: read them here. His well-informed analysis of the confessions and their implications is here. Kazim is basically exploring the ever more convincing theory that the Hariri assassination was carried out on the orders of (the now killed) leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, al-Zarqawi, as a revenge for Hariri’s signing of the death warrants of several Lebanese jihadis and because of Hariri’s very close ties to the Saudi royal family – and with the added advantage of contributing to bring down the secular regime in Syria which is one of the jihadis’ worst enemies.

An excerpt (Kazimi’s emphasis):

-The detainees are being held by the Interior Ministry (pro-Hariri), while Military Intelligence (thought to be pro-Lahoud) has not been allowed to interrogate them. The UN inquiry team into the Hariri assassination, currently headed by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz (took over from Detlev Mehlis on Jan. 24), has asked for access to this group but are being stonewalled.

-A team from the Saudi intelligence service arrived in Beirut and spoke to the Saudi and Palestinian detainees. They managed to extract the names of five priority security targets operating in Saudi Arabia. It has been suggested that the initial information about the truck bomb was expunged from the record after this meeting, leading to speculation about some sort of deal.

(post edited and expanded 10/11/2007)

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