BEIRUT: Brigadier General Jamil Sayyed, the former head of General Security detained on suspicion of involvement in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others, urged authorities on Friday to look into the latest reports of a possible Al-Qaeda connection to the assassination.
“Why are the printed confessions of a 13-member group called Al-Qaeda in Balad al-Sham admitting their involvement in Hariri’s killing completely disregarded?” Sayyed asked in a statement released by his lawyer, Akram Azoury.
Sayyed was referring to a series of articles on the confessions published last week by the local daily Al-Akhbar, entitled the “The group of 13 and assassination of Rafik Hariri.”
The articles included lengthy excerpts of the alleged confessions and details outlining how the statements were extracted under torture, as well as the names of the members belonging to the Al-Qaeda splinter group.
Local media outlets circulated unconfirmed reports that the excerpts were actually
taken from the notes of a preliminary investigation by the former public prosecutor, Adnan Adoum.
“If the confessions were accurate, then why weren’t these members charged with involvement in the Hariri assassination?” asked Sayyed, addressing his questions to the general prosecutor, Saeed Mirza.
On August 30, 2005, Lebanese authorities detained four high-level security and intelligence officials, after arrest warrants were issued by Mirza. The individuals arrested were Sayyed; General Ali Al-Hajj, former head of the Internal Security Forces; General Raymond Azar, former head of military intelligence; and General Mustafa Hamdan, commander of the Presidential Guard.
“Whatever the authenticity of the confessions or whether they were given under torture or not, why hasn’t Mirza issued arrest warrants for these people … and informed [Serge Brammertz] of this development?” asked Sayyed.
Brammertz replaced Detlev Mehlis as the chief investigator of the UN commission. The four Lebanese officials were detained when Mehlis was the head of the UN commission.
“My questions illustrate the twisted political manner in which Mirza is handling the file of the assassination,” he said.
The first report published by the UN commission on October 19, 2005, included Sayyed’s statements about his whereabouts on February 14, 2005, the day of the assassination.
According to the statement, Sayyed was at his office when he heard the blast, but thought that the noise was the result of Israeli warplanes breaking the sound barrier.
Sayyed said in his statement that he learned later, somewhere between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m, from Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad al-Assir that the massive explosion had targeted Hariri’s motorcade.
Sayyed told the UN commission that he remained in his office and that no one from the General Security was sent to the crime scene.
The former General Security chief told the commission that he later called President Emile Lahoud, Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh and General Rustom Ghazali, who then headed Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon.