BEIRUT: Two days after barely escaping an attempt on his life, journalist Mustafa Jeha accused “factions and militias” that have non-state arms of being behind the shooting.“All factions and militias that possess weapons that are not under national sovereignty [are responsible],” Jeha told The Daily Star Monday.
Jeha, who works for the Kataeb (Phalange) Party’s news website and has also written for the websites of the Lebanese Forces and the March 14 coalition, was driving on the Damour-Jiyyeh highway Saturday when he came under fire. Six bullets struck his car but Jeha was not injured.
His father, also named Mustafa, was a journalist and was killed by unknown gunmen while driving his car in an east Beirut suburb in January 1992.
The late Jeha was an outspoken opponent of fundamentalism and had published works critical of the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini.
Jeha, who is from the Tyre village of Jibbayn, said the attack over the weekend could have been motivated by a number of factors.
“Recently, I worked on republishing my father’s controversial book, ‘Khomeini kills Zarathustra.’ This book received much criticism on its publication. In addition, I recently activated my father’s case, which was never dealt with seriously by the national courts,” said Jeha.
He said that following the book’s publication, the Jaafari Court, a Shiite religious court, issued a religious edict that portrayed his father as an unbeliever and accused him of apostasy.
“Authorities should have at least detained the sheikh who issued such a statement since he instigated my father’s killing and this act is punishable according to the Penal Code,” Jeha added.
Another possible motive behind the weekend attack, according to Jeha, is his role in launching the “Lebanese Sovereignty Movement,” which he described as a newly established political forum that includes liberal academicians and activists.
The movement’s manifesto calls for the state to maintain sovereignty over all its territories.
Speaking on the circumstances surrounding the assassination attempt, Jeha said that there was at least one person in addition to the driver in the black Mercedes that was pursuing him on the Damour-Jiyyeh Saturday evening.
It was after 11 p.m. that he noticed he was being followed. Shortly thereafter, one of its occupants fired shots.
“The person sitting beside the driver was the one who fired shots from a gun,” Jeha said.
He added that authorities are investigating the incident, but he will also file a lawsuit Tuesday.
“From now on, I will be taking [security] measures following what happened on Saturday,” he added.
The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom has condemned the “attempted assassination” of Jeha, saying: “This is evidence of the perpetrators’ intent to silence him and to prevent any serious investigation into the death of his father who was assassinated over 20 years ago.”
Jeha said his latest writings focused on the Syrian crisis and the brutality of the Syrian regime, which he described as a “killing machine.” The journalist has also recently written on domestic affairs, stressing the need to disarm all non-state actors whether they are Lebanese or Palestinian.