The ghost of assassinations has crawled over Beirut once more, and another important political figure joins the list of Lebanese martyrs. Where does this leave Lebanon? Where will these events lead us? Who is next on the assassination list?
On the afternoon of the 19th of October, Beirut became once more the scene of murder. A bomb, predicted to be about 50kg, rocked the streets of the predominantly Christian district of Ashrafieh, killing eight people including Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, head of the Information Branch of Internal Security Forces, and wounding tens of civilians. The car in which the bomb was planted was said to have crumbled like paper by the explosion.
Wissam al-Hassan was born in 1965 in Koura, Northern Lebanon. He was appointed head of the Information Division of the Internal Security Forces in 2006. He worked on improving the division’s conduct, and because of his efficient and successful accomplishments, he was promoted to Senior Brigadier General in 2012. Al-Hassan revealed many crimes, including the Ain Alaq blast and more than 30 networks that threatened Lebanese civil and national security.
"The government must leave and we call on Prime Minister Najib Mikati to resign immediately," said Ahmad Hariri, secretary-general of the Future movement, reading from a statement.
"Prime Minister Najib Mikati is personally responsible for the blood of General Wissam al-Hassan and the innocent" victims of the attack, he added.
Al-Hassan was responsible for the recent arrest of former minister Michel Samaha, who conducted a Syrian plot to spread a network of explosives and thus threaten the Lebanese ‘equilibrium’. A staunch critic of al-Assad, he uncovered many plots by the Syrian regime, such as the attempt to assassinate parliament member Boutros Harb.
Wissam al-Hassan has always been a target of March 8 politicians. His division at ISF was claimed to be neutral. March 14 politicians blame Bashar al Assad and his political regime for al-Hassan’s death.
“Bashar al-Assad is held responsible for this crime, and we shall continue with our mission whatever it takes,” says Samir Geagea, a March 14 leader. Walid Jumblatt, Lebanon’s Druze leader, adds that they will continue working politically.
"The Syrian regime is expert in political assassinations," he told AFP. "Our response needs to be political. A president who burns Syria and is the executioner of Damascus does not care if Lebanon burns."
Where does this leave Lebanon? Is this the start of a new season of a series of murders in the Lebanese scene? When will the threat end? When will we become a country? These are the questions that the Lebanese are asking.