27 September 2007

Syrian plot to kill Lebanon's MP Ghanem exposed

Beirut - Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah has reported very disturbing information on the assassination of former MP Antoine Ghanem, including the preparation of the booby trapped car and the execution of the assassination.

The Al-Seyassah sources in Syria were able to link the assassination of Ghanem, his bodyguards and 3 others to the opening of the Arida and Dabussiya border crossings between Lebanon and Syria on September 17, 2 days before the assassination took place.

The Al-Seyassah sources also revealed that the opening of the crossings was to facilitate the entry of the assassins with their equipment and the Mercedes car that was booby trapped at the Syrian intelligence base of Kfarsoussah near Damascus including all the forged documents required.

The whole operation was coordinated by Bassem Emad, a Syrian intelligence officer that reports directly to Assef Shawkat, head of the Syrian intelligence and President Bashar el Assad’s brother-in-law.

The assassination was performed by Syrian intelligence agents after detailed monitoring of Ghanem’s movements and the roads that he used to use. These agents rented two apartments, one near the residence of Ghanem in Qlei'at and the other near the crime scene in Sin el Fil.The killers also rented a third apartment in Tripoli three months ago using forged documents.

The sources revealed that the killers left Lebanon immediately after committing a crime, completely disguised as Syrian workers.

The March 14 leading majority has accused Syria of the murder of Ghanem, but Syria denied any involvement.

Al-Seyassah was the first newspaper to reveal the names of the Lebanese generals who were linked to the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005. All 4 generals are now in jail awaiting trial.-(YL)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

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The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.