BEIRUT: A team from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has assisted Lebanese authorities in the ongoing probe into last week’s assassination of former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah, acting State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud said earlier this week.
“Lebanese authorities had agreed to allow the FBI to provide technical assistance for the investigation after the bureau expressed a 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 this crime and other crimes, but the investigation remains the sole responsibility of Lebanese judicial and security agencies,” he said.
The team left Beirut Tuesday night.
A car bomb ripped through a bustling, commercial street in the capital’s central district on Dec. 27, killing Former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister 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 explosives-rigged Honda CRV, which was stolen in 2012 and sold in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain al-Hilweh.
Investigators have not yet reviewed all CCTV footage taken from surveillances cameras set up in the Downtown area.
Meanwhile, security forces released a Palestinian resident of Ain al-Hilweh and 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 Urdouni and subsequently sold.
Sources at Ain al-Hilweh could not confirm whether 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.
The FBI also assisted investigators of last year’s October car bomb which killed ISF Information Branch head Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan in the Beirut district of Ashrafieh.