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The ineffectiveness of Daniel Bellemare, the next UN appointee to head the commission after Brammertz’s term had expired, even caused one former commission employee to wonder whether Bellemare, a Canadian, was a plant. The employee told the CBC: “If I was given to conspiracies theories, I’d think he was deliberately put in there so as not to achieve anything.”
When one considers the most egregious example of UN negligence, the ignoring of the cell phone evidence, that statement is not so far fetched. A brilliant young Lebanese police investigator with a computer engineering degree, Wissam Eid, patched together evidence from cell phone records that showed a hit-team of eight men was involved in Hariri’s assassination. The hit team had followed Hariri “for weeks” as part of “a well-planned, disciplined, long-term operation.”
Eid’s outstanding skills showed the hit team’s phones were used at the assassination site on the day of the bombing. He further revealed through his analysis other networks involved in the assassination, which all seemed linked to the Great Prophet Hospital in Beirut, a suspected Hezbollah stronghold. Hariri turned all his evidence over to the UN commission in early 2006 where it sat dormant on its computers until January, 2008.
The commission itself had excellent investigators on its staff, but Brammertz never allowed them to examine cell phone records, a move Macdonald terms unbelievable. Again, the question arises why such basic police work was forbidden?
Only towards the end of his term in January, 2008, Macdonald reports, did Brammertz finally allow an examination of the vital cell phone records. A British analyst then subsequently revealed what Eid had put together months earlier regarding the hit team. But the only problem was, Macdonald says, is that the best moment for such investigations had passed. Time and opportunities had been wasted.
“The trouble was, the traces were now nearly three years old, long past the “golden hour” for harvesting the best clues,” the CBC journalist stated.
It was also in January, 2008, that the commission “discovered” Eid’s report on their computers. It actually revealed more than the British analysis in that it exposed “the networks behind the network” and implicated Hezbollah. The British analyst was stunned to learn that Eid had discovered so much without his having had any proper training and having used only Excel spreadsheets. Eid was subsequently asked, and agreed, to help the UN commission.
But the commission’s “reaching out” to Eid, caused the greatest tragedy of its already troubled existence. Hezbollah quickly learned of Eid’s agreement to co-operate with the UN and threatened the young policeman. Eid, however, ignored the terrorist group’s warning and, like Hariri, was assassinated in his vehicle in January, 2008, with a bomb after having met only twice with UN investigators. Nine others died in the attack. Eid, a captain posthumously promoted to major, was only in his thirties.
A major suspect in Eid’s death was his superior, Col. Wissam al Hassan, the head of Lebanese intelligence and Eid’s boss. Hassan had also been Hariri’s chief of security, but he was not in the motorcade when Hariri died, saying he had had a test to write at the university. Hassan’s weak excuse did, however, make him a suspect in the Hariri assassination. But Brammertz ruled out any investigation of Hassan, calling him “a key interlocutor for the commission,” even though the CBC reports his phone records for 2004 and 2005, examined by UN investigators, show he had talked to a Hezbollah leader 279 times.
“Several former UN investigators, though, are unanimous. They believe Hezbollah infiltrated the commission and used Hassan in the process,” Macdonald states.
If indictments are handed down against Hezbollah for Hariri’s murder, it is doubtful they can be enforced in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has already said he will “cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest Hezbollah members. But these indictments, if they do occur, will still constitute a moral victory albeit delayed.
In the case of Wissam Eid, justice and a moral victory can only be achieved if the UN commission itself is now investigated. But don’t hold your breath. As far as the UN is concerned, evil does not investigate evil; it encourages it.
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