Lebanon News

Assad adviser dismisses reports of involvement in Samaha plot

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur (R) and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem (2nd L) and media advisor to the resident Buthaina Shaaban (L) in Damascus,on August 7, 2011. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)

BEIRUT: An adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad dismissed Sunday reports of her involvement in the case of a former Lebanese minister charged with plotting terrorist attacks.

Sources close to Buthaina Shaaban quoted her as saying that what is happening in Lebanon is no more than political bickering and is not worth responding to or commenting on.

An analysis of a phone conversation between Shaaban and former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha has been referred to Lebanon’s first military investigative judge, a judicial source told The Daily Star over the weekend.

“Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr referred to First Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda an analysis report [from the Internal Security Forces Information Branch] of a mobile phone conversation that reveals Samaha was in direct contact with Shaaban,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the report, the source added, the phone conversation was made while Samaha was in Syria. Samaha is alleged to have obtained explosives from Syria during that visit and returned to Lebanon with the aim of using them in attacks.

Media reports said that the analysis revealed that Samaha informed Shaaban of his plot.

Samaha, who has maintained close ties with the Syrian regime for decades, was charged in August with transporting explosives from Syria into Lebanon to use them in terrorist attacks aimed at assassinating religious and political figures.

Separately, Al-Arabiya television broadcast over the weekend what it said are leaked Syrian documents proving Hezbollah’s involvement in the December 2005 assassination of MP Gibran Tueni.

One of the documents, carrying the date of Dec. 12, 2005, was sent from Hasan Abdel-Rahman, who headed the operations branch of Syrian Intelligence, to late Syrian Deputy-Defense Minister Assef Shawkat.

Addressing Shawkat, Abdel-Rahman says: “with the help of members from Lebanese Hezbollah intelligence, mission 213 which was given to them on Dec. 10 was accomplished and had excellent results.”

Al-Arabiya reported that the same day this telegram was sent to the presidential palace in Damascus, Tueni, who opposed the Syrian regime, was killed by a car bomb.

Other documents show that Hezbollah was providing assistance to regime troops in Aleppo after the anti-regime uprising broke out on March 2011.

Hezbollah’s spokesperson could not be reached by The Daily Star.

Media outlets have reported that Hezbollah members who were given funerals by the party last week were killed while fighting alongside regime troops in Syria. Hezbollah has said only that the two were killed while performing their “jihad duty.”

Commenting on the documents shown by Al-Arabiya, Chouf MP Marwan Hamade, Tueni’s uncle, said he was not surprised.

Speaking to MTV, Hamade said that he was the first to accuse Syria and its allies in Lebanon of carrying out assassinations.

Hamade has also blamed Syria for planning the failed attempt on his own life on October 2004.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 08, 2012, on page 4.




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