Hobeika Killing – Anti Syrian Group Claims Responsibility; Beirut Maintains Ties to Mossad, Israel Denies
A Belgian senator who visited Beirut Tuesday and met secretly with the assassinated former Lebanese minister and militia leader Elie Hobeika stated that the latter told him he had important information that he would reveal to the court during the forthcoming trial of the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Brussels. The senator claimed that Hobeikah told him he was threatened of death many times.
In the first Palestinian comment on the assassination of Hobeikah, representative of the Palestinian leader, Yaser Arafat, in Lebanon accused Israel of the assassination. Also, Lebanese sources accused the Israeli intelligence Mossad of killing the former Lebanese minister.
The Belgian senator Jose Dubier told AFP that Hobeika told him during a secret meeting in Lebanon with members of the Belgian congress last Tuesday that his life was in danger and that he had information to reveal about Sabra and Shatila massacres.
Earlier, Lebanese security sources announced that the former minister and his escorts were killed in a car explosion. The same sources said that while Hobeikah’s Range Rover was passing by a black Mercedes 280 parked at the roadside, the latter exploded killing Hobeikah and all those who were in his car. The explosion was so violent that the bodies of the victims were torn to pieces and flew in the air to a distance of at least 20 meters away from the scene.
Hobaikah’s body was found about 20 meters from the site of the explosion in addition to the bodies of his escorts Tony Suleiman, Waleed Zein and Demitry Ajam, the same sources added.
The Lebanese security sources stated that all evidences about the identity of the owners of the booby-trapped car had been removed and confirmed that the operation was planned by professional killers. They accused the Israeli intelligence, The Mossad, as the mastermind behind the operation.
Israeli sources said that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave direct orders to assassinate the former Lebanese minister and militia leader Elie Hobeika, the only witness in Sabra and Shatila massacres case. The Israeli web site “news-israel.net” said that Sharon was behind the operation.
Hobeika is considered the only witness in the lawsuit filed by the survivors of Sabra and Shatila massacres against Sharon in Belgium. The issue has caused Sharon a lot of concern and prevented him from visiting Belgium in view of the fact that he became wanted by the Belgian justice.
According to Lebanese security reports, Hobeika was inside his car along with other three persons wearing diving suits. The Lebanese former minister used to practice this sport and established a special club for training children on divining.
The Lebanese Interior Minister, Elias al Murr arrived at the scene and witnesses said the operation was carefully planned. Chief Military Magistrate Nasri Lahoud, while touring the site of the explosion, said that the act could have been masterminded by "the Israelis."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Later, a leaflet issued in the name of an anti-Syrian Lebanese group claimed responsibility for the killing Hobeika, saying the former warlord had betrayed his country and was a Syrian agent.
The claim, made in a statement in Arabic by a group calling itself the "Lebanese For a Free and Independent Lebanon", was faxed to offices of Reuters in Cyprus.
"One of our units carried out the death sentence this morning against the Syrian agent Elie Hobeika who has sold out Lebanon and the Lebanese and became an effective tool in the hands of Syria's Lebanon's 'governor' Ghazi Kenaan," said the statement signed by the group.
Ghazi Kenaan is the head of Syria's military intelligence in Lebanon where Damascus has an estimated 20,000 troops as well as effective political and military control in Lebanon.
The group said the assassination was a message to Syria to get out of Lebanon. It warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would face the same fate if "he set foot in Lebanon before removing all of his troops."
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on the assassination or the allegations. "We do not react to the issue of Elie Hobeika," said David Baker, a spokesman for Sharon. Later, the Ariel Sharon himself denied any Israeli involvement in Hobeika’s killing.
Hobeika was the Head of Intelligence for the pro Israel Lebanese Forces Militia when the massacres of 800-1000 civil Palestinians took place during the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982. During the first tenure of Rafiq al Hariri as the Lebanese Premier, Hobeika was appointed Minister of Water and Electricity Resources.
Survivors of the massacres filed a suitcase against the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon at the War Crime’s Court in Belgium. In July 2001, Hobeika denied in his last press conference in Beirut the accusations by Sharon that he was behind the massacres and stated he was ready to submit evidence to a Belgian inquiry on the role played by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in the massacres. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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