BEIRUT: A team from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has assisted Lebanese authorities in the ongoing investigation into last week’s assassination of former Minister Mohammad Shatah, acting State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud said Tuesday.
“Lebanese authorities had agreed to allow the FBI to provide technical assistance for the investigation after the bureau expressed desire to do so,” Hammoud told The Daily Star.
The FBI team arrived to Beirut late Sunday, inspected the explosion site in Downtown Beirut, collected evidence and submitted a summary of its work to the Internal Security Forces, the agency tasked with the investigation, Hammoud added.
“The Lebanese authorities welcome any international assistance that could help reveal the facts and the perpetrators behind the crime and other crimes, but the investigation remains the sole responsibility of Lebanese judicial and security agencies,” he said.
The team is set to leave Beirut Tuesday night.
A car bomb ripped through a bustling, commercial street in the capital’s central district on Dec. 27, killing the senior adviser of former PM Saad Hariri and seven others including a 16-year-old boy.
The probe into the deadly attack has made little progress as investigators are still tracking the path of the explosive-rigged Honda CRV which was stolen in 2012 and entered the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain el-Hilweh.
Investigators have not yet reviewed all CCTV footage taken from surveillances cameras set up in the Downtown area.
Meanwhile, security forces released Palestinian resident of Ain el-Hilweh and a Fatah member, Talal al-Urdouni, after two days of interrogation over the Honda CRV used in the bombing. The vehicle was allegedly stolen, purchased by al-Urdouni and later sold by him.
Sources at Ain el-Hilweh could not confirm whether al-Urdouni returned to the camp.
The ISF sought the public’s help in the investigation, urging individuals once again with photos or videos of the car bomb to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An FBI team also assisted investigators in last year’s October car bomb which killed head of the ISF Information Branch Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan in the Beirut district of Ashrafieh. -With additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari