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U.N. Links Syria to Lebanon Slayings

THE WORLD

Report says intelligence officials in both nations had a hand in the death of ex-premier Hariri. It also casts suspicion on the Lebanese president.

October 21, 2005|Maggie Farley | Times Staff Writer

On Aug. 30, Lebanese authorities arrested and detained four pro-Syria generals for conspiring to assassinate Hariri: Jamil Sayyed, former director of General Security; Ali Hajj, former head of the national police; Raymond Azar, former head of military intelligence; and Mustafa Hamdan, commander of the Republican Guard Brigade. Each denies involvement in the planning or execution of Hariri's slaying.

The report also identifies Ahmad Abdel-Al, a member of the Islamic militant Ahbash group in Lebanon with longtime ties to Syria, as a central figure in the assassination because he and his brother had called each of the important figures identified in the investigation before the blast. His brother, Mahmoud, placed a call to the cellphone of Lahoud just three minutes before the bomb killed Hariri, the investigators found.

The investigation also concluded that a man identified as Abu Adass, who appeared in a videotape given to Al Jazeera television and claimed to be the suicide bomber, was a decoy and that the group he said he represented may never have existed.

One witness said that Gen. Shawkat forced Abu Adass to record the tape in Damascus about 15 days before the assassination. Though the investigators did not independently confirm Shawkat's involvement, they found the witness' statements about Abu Adass consistent with other evidence.

"There are no indications (other than the videotape) that he drove a truck containing the bomb that killed Hariri," the report says. "The evidence does show that it is likely that Mr. Abu Adass left his home on [Jan. 16] and was taken, voluntarily or not, to Syria, where he has since disappeared."

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