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March 04, 2003

More Unsolved Mysteries in Lebanon

TheMiddle East Intelligence Bulletin lists a number of unsolved mysteries taking place in Lebanon. Of course the Israelis will be blamed.
The director-general of Lebanon's General Security Directorate, Brig. Gen. Jamil al-Sayyid, does not appear to have lost any sleep lately. If Lebanon were any other country in the world, one might conclude that the man in charge of the country's principal domestic security agency had a bad year in 2002. Leaving aside the ostensibly natural deaths (such as the sudden heart failure in January of a Christian MP rumored to have dallied with the anti-Syrian opposition), the list of major "unsolved" murders that took place during the first eleven months of last year would have cost even J. Edgar Hoover his job. On January 24, ex-militia chief and former minister Elie Hobeika was killed by a car bomb. On April 20, the grossly disfigured body of Ramzi Irani, the student coordinator of the opposition Lebanese Forces (LF) party, was found in the trunk of his car. On November 21, an American missionary in the southern port of Sidon, Bonnie Penner, was murdered - the first time a US citizen had died from foul play in Lebanon in over ten years. In addition, the culprits who bombed all but one of the major American fast food chains in Lebanon (and evidently have a soft spot for Burger King) have yet to be identified.

The spate of violence kicked into high gear during the first week of December with the killing of an Iraqi dissident, the assassination of a shadowy Lebanese intelligence operative and drug dealer (along with his nephew), and the bombing of a mausoleum near Syrian intelligence headquarters in Anjar. While it is not possible to identify the culprits with any degree of certainty, the circumstances of these three incidents reveal a great deal about why none of them has been deemed worthy of an exhaustive investigation. [more]