Investigators Assess: Orders to Kill Hobeika Given About Two Weeks Ago
The investigation into the killing of former minister and militia leader Elie Hobeika inched forward on Friday with military intelligence personnel detaining four men suspected of possessing information that might lead to the culprits behind the car bombing.
According to the Daily Star, a recent owner of the bomb-laden car that was used in Thursday’s blast a black Mercedes 280 was reportedly identified as a 42-year-old man from Ain al-Mir, near Jezzine. He was picked up from his home overnight and remained at the Defense Ministry for questioning on Friday, a security source disclosed.
Another suspect from Jezzine was taken into custody Friday along with two others, whose identities and hometowns the security source would not disclose.
However, he seems to have sold the car about a month ago to someone who has not yet been identified. No official complaint of a stolen car with the specifications of the Mercedes 280 has been recorded, an indication that the current owner may have been involved in Hobeika’s killing.
Investigators were able to retrace the car’s origin on the basis of its engine’s serial number. The killers had previously eliminated all traces of the main element that would have easily helped identify the vehicle’s origin the chassis serial number. But security officials obtained the chassis’ number based on the engine serial number, having asked for this piece of information from the Mercedes manufacturers in Germany, the source said.
The first stage of the investigation focused on Hobeika’s close surroundings, as it is believed that whoever manipulated the remote control that was used to detonate the bomb had to be close to the former minister’s house, where the incident took place. The choice of Hobeika’s home to perpetrate the crime, rather than his office in Myrna Chalouhi Center in Sin al-Fil, was also interpreted as evidence that the killers wanted to restrict the damage by opting for a less crowded district.
According to Daily Star , Hobeika was wearing a flak jacket at the time of the assassination. According to security source, this was a sign Hobeika was concerned about being shot, not slain by a bomb.
Rumors that one of Hobeika’s bodyguards may have been involved were denied by sources close to the investigation on Friday.
During Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Elias Murr noted that the road where the booby-trapped car was parked was asphalted only two weeks ago. Prior to that, no car had access to it.
According to government sources, this indicates that the orders to assassinate Hobeika in that particular site were given less than two weeks ago. It also apparently highlights the killers’ professionalism, for being able to plan and carry out the attack in such a brief notice. (Albawaba.com)
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