BEIRUT: Hassan Lakkis, the Hezbollah commander who was assassinated outside his Beirut home late Tuesday, had played a key role in advancing the group’s technological capabilities in its fight against Israel and had brushes with death on many occasions, sources told The Daily Star Wednesday.
“Lakkis was involved in scientific development and played a key role in developing Hezbollah’s unmanned aerial vehicles program,” a source close to the Lebanese group told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity
A security source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lakkis was also in charge of smuggling arms to Gaza and Egypt.
The Hezbollah commander was gunned down outside his home by at least one unidentified assailant wielding a silenced 9-mm pistol, a high-ranking security official told The Daily Star.
Lakkis, who was in his vehicle at the time of the shooting, was shot in the head and the neck five times, said the official, who requested anonymity.
Hezbollah in a statement blamed the Jewish state for the killing, describing the attack as a “heinous crime.” Israel’s spokesman denied the allegation.
The source close to the Lebanese party said Lakkis was clearly a top target for Israel, saying the Hezbollah figure was on “Israel’s top 50 most wanted list.”
The security source also said Tuesday’s assassination bore the hallmarks of an Israeli hit.
“Modus operandi indicates it was an Israeli job,” the source said.
Lakkis, according to the source close to Hezbollah, had also survived numerous attempts on his life in the past, including during the July-August 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel.
“Lakkis escaped with his life on nine occasions, including twice in south Lebanon,” the source said, adding that Tyre and Sidon were just two cities where the official had brushed with death.
“Lakkis’ car was targeted on the old Sidon road during an air raid in 2006 just minutes after he switched on his dad’s phone,” the source said, referring to the latter assassination attempt.