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Lebanon News

Lebanon's Arabic press digest - Aug. 10, 2012

Lebanon's Arabic press digest.

Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Friday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.

As-Safir

Security official accuse [Samaha] of “bringing 24 bombs from Syria to detonate in the north”!

Michel Samaha detained ... leaks [constitute] advance “convictions”

In a serious and unprecedented move contrary to the Constitution and the law, the Internal Security Forces Information Branch detained former MP and Cabinet Minister Michel Samaha in a police operation early Thursday that began with breaking into his Metn house in Juwar [near Khanshara] and ended in the evening with accusations that he planned assassinations and plotted to ignite strife in north Lebanon!

It seemed clear from the stream of “leaks” that began less than two hours following Samaha’s arrest, that some deliberately aimed at distorting his image and that of the political team that he belongs to.

It was leaked that Michel Samaha is involved in assassinations [investigated by] the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, then of collaboration with Israel and later with assassination attempts against MPs Khaled Daher and Mouin Merhebi. The situation reached as far as accusing him of a plot to assassinate Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai ... before unofficial evening leaks unfolded a tale that he brought 24 bombs across the [Lebanon-Syria] Masnaa border crossing set to explode in Akkar and the north!

An-Nahar

Key Assad symbol’s arrest draws surprise

Samaha accused of plotting explosion during Rai’s visit

Investigation sources: Former minister confessed to involvement in transporting bombs to detonate in Akkar

Hezbollah’s primary reaction: We won’t remain silent on security fabrications

What next, following the big surprise of the arrest of former MP and Cabinet Minister Michel Samaha? And after leaks of his confessions in the initial investigation caused a shock?

This strange security-political development has actually dealt a painful blow, perhaps the largest in terms of its magnitude, to one of the prominent symbols of the Syrian regime in Lebanon – Samaha being dubbed Syria’s man given his close links to Bashar Assad.

Sources close to the investigation told An-Nahar that the arrest came following two weeks of close surveillance of Samaha based on intelligence data.

The sources said Samaha confessed to charges brought against him that he transported small and big bombs weighing between two and 20 kilograms made of highly explosive material from Syria to Lebanon with the aim of planting them in various northern areas, particularly Akkar. In other words, he was plotting and preparing for terrorist attacks with the aim of igniting sectarian discord.

Al-Joumhouria

Samaha: Bashar “wants this”

From the moment of his arrest, speculation was rife over the motives that led to it [despite] scarce information.

Interrogation perhaps is going to be wrapped up quickly – the ISF Information Branch will most probably refer the case to the judiciary after Samaha confessed to more than 90 percent of what happened, starting with the 24 bombs that were brought in from Syria.

No pressure was exerted on Samaha, as authorities had solid evidence –  a video showed him handing explosives to one of the perpetrators. Upon being shown the video, Samaha did not deny [the accusations] and instead confessed immediately.

The video showed Samaha saying that Syria is behind the bomb plot. Samaha said [in the video] that Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk had handed him the bombs in addition to cash to be distributed among the perpetrators in Lebanon.

The ISF seized $170,000 from Samaha’s residence.

What is even more dangerous is that Samaha said [in the video] that Bashar Assad “wants this.”

Al-Liwaa

Charbel confirms to Al-Liwaa: Samaha confessed

Rai’s assassination in Akkar topped the plot ... Probe uncovers others' involvement

Assad steps in ... Hezbollah says to wait ... Aoun remains silent

It’s over. Former MP and Cabinet Minister Michel Samaha confessed to everything brought against him.

His confessions were confirmed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.

Charbel told Al-Liwaa that Samaha confessed to all the charges brought against him, describing the accusations as “very dangerous but having nothing to do with Israel.”

Security sources ruled out that interventions in Samaha’s case would succeed. Reports Thursday had it that Syrian President Bashar Assad stepped in to [try to] secure Samaha’s release.

 

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