Saturday, October 20, 2012

Assassination of senior Lebanese Intelligence offical in Beirut

The death of senior Lebanese Intelligence official, Wissam al Hassan, looks as though it was a meticulously planned assassination to weaken the anti-Assad movement. Hassan was close to Saad Hariri, the leader of the Lebanese opposition and hostile to the regime in Syria. He had been tipped to take over as ISF head  - a Sunni dominated arm of the security apparatus supported by SA, Turkey and Qatar – that has been directly involved in logistical support to the Free Syrian Army. Al-Hassan was pivotal in the Internal Security Forces' Aug. 9 arrest of former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha, a close ally of al Assad, over alleged involvement in a bomb plot commissioned by Damascus. He was also reportedly close to former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Saad's father, and took part in the investigation into Rafik al-Hariri's 2005 assassination, which implicated Syria and Hezbollah.

The attack in Sassine Square was likely intended to emulate the modus operandi of Salafist Jihadists; an obvious subterfuge given extremists have been moving into the Levant in recent months. Blaming Jihadists would give the Assad-regime a certain amount of deniability whilst stirring up tensions and possible retaliatory violence against Syrian-aligned figures in Lebanon. However it's unlikely that Al-Hassan supporters will believe that Jihadists were responsible. That said it may be too soon to determine which group was responsible for the attack, yet all the markers point towards Damascus with an intent to shift the strategic focus away from its central nucleus and weaken FSA supply lines into Syria.

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