Ibrahim Fayad | The Lithuania Tribune
On Friday, October 19th, a blast shook downtown Beirut, killing 8 and injuring dozens. The car bomb targeted the head of the internal intelligence, brigadier-general Wissam al-Hassan.
Hassan had arrived from Paris the night before the bombing which occurred on the rush hour around 2:45 PM. The blast went off outside Hassan’s house in al-Ashrafiah, a central neighborhood in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, and not far from the headquarters building of 14 March Coalition, the Lebanese opposition coalition.
Fingers pointed directly to Damascus as the main suspect for assassinating Wissam al-Hassan. The Telegraph quoted Saad al-Hariri, the Lebanese former prime minister and the opposition leader saying “We accuse Bashar al-Assad of the assassination of Wissam al-Hassan, the guarantor of the security of the Lebanese.”
In 2001, Hassan became the head of the security team of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minster. After the death of Mr. Hariri in 2005, Hassan led an investigation that accused Syria and its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, of plotting the attack. Mr. Hassan’s confrontation with the neighboring Syria didn’t stop there. Last August, Hassan ordered the arrest of the former information minister and Syria’s strong man in Lebanon, Michel Samaha. Samaha was accused of having explosives and arranging for targeting Lebanese leaders opposing the Assad regime in Lebanon. The arrest of Samaha, a very high-profile political player, in a country based on balances and a man who’s known for being the representative of the Assad regime in Lebanon was seen as another turning point in Mr. Hassan tense relationship with Damascus.
In the recent months, there were rumors of Hassan’s connections to the Free Syrian Army. Those rumors were boosted when the latter named Mr. Hassan as one of the potential negotiator on the issue of the 11 kidnapped Lebanese in Syria who were suspected of being members of Hezbollah.
These reasons besides the history of the Syrian regime with the car bomb attacks drove fingers to point towards Damascus as the main suspect for the Friday’s attack.
After the bombing, protests were reported in different cities. Protesters blocked the streets and burned tires in Beirut and in Tripoli. Protests are expected to expand in the coming days demanding the resignation of the government.
Though investigations have just started, Lebanese on both sides, pro and anti-Assad, seem to agree on who’s the perpetrator. “I openly accuse Bashar al-Assad and his regime of killing Wissam al-Hassan.” Said Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader.
How will this blast impact the political scene in Lebanon? What impact will it have on the Syrian conflict? How will the Lebanese opposition to whom Hassan had close ties react? Are all questions to be answered in the coming days.