Within an hour of the massive explosion that rocked Beirut on August 4, Hezbollah denied any culpability. Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, considered a close Hezbollah ally, immediately attributed the blast to the presence of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that ignited after a nearby warehouse housing fireworks caught fire. Lebanese authorities claim that the ammonium nitrate was confiscated from a Russian cargo vessel in 2013 after the ship took a detour from its original destination and docked at the port.
The ammonium nitrate, which can be used to make explosives, was stored at the port for seven years before it blew up with catastrophic consequences. There is ample reason to believe that Hezbollah was responsible for the blast and resulting carnage. The collective evidence is in fact, damning.
First, one must understand that in Lebanon, Hezbollah controls all ports of entry, either directly through force of arms or indirectly, through graft. The obvious purpose is to control the flow of weapons, money and narcotics that pass through these ports of entry. Therefore, it is logical to assume that Hezbollah was aware of the presence of the ammonium nitrate.
In 2008 the Lebanese cabinet headed by the Western-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, attempted to remove security cameras installed by Hezbollah at Beirut International Airport. The cabinet also attempted to remove Brigadier General Wafiq Shkeir, widely regarded as a Hezbollah stooge, from his post as airport security chief. Finally, the government attempted to close separate telecommunication infrastructure that Hezbollah was installing throughout the country.
Hezbollah responded to the cabinet’s challenge with overwhelming military force, imposing its will on the government. The government collapsed and Siniora was forced to resign. From that point on, Hezbollah ceased to be a mini state within Lebanon. Rather it was Lebanon that was transformed into a mini state within Hezbollah.
Second, the swiftness of denials from Hezbollah officials in connection with the blast brings to mind the alacrity with which Iranian authorities denied any culpability in the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. In both cases, bad actors were laying the groundwork for a cover-up. Hezbollah is also opposing efforts to internationalize the investigation, in what appears to be a blatant attempt to thwart transparency.
Third, Hezbollah has in the past attempted to use ammonium nitrate in preparatory stages for attacks against Western targets. Ammonium nitrate stashes linked to Hezbollah were found in London, Cyprus and southern Germany. In the latter case, the stockpiles were uncovered with the help of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. British authorities stated that their operation was aided by “international partners.” In 2016, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened to target ammonia storage tanks located in Israel’s third largest city of Haifa. The terror leader stated that the resulting explosion from such an attack would be akin to a nuclear bomb, chuckling as he discussed the matter.
Fourth, the Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman notes that Hezbollah has imported thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate from Syria. Hezbollah worked hard to secure Lebanon’s agricultural ministry for itself to make it easier for the group to acquire the material. It’s clear that Hezbollah was cognizant of ammonium nitrate’s usefulness as a terror weapon and sought to use it for malign activities. It is also a good bet that the ammonium nitrate that exploded on August 4 was requisitioned by Hezbollah.
There are a few more components to this story that cast further suspicion on Hezbollah. Hezbollah has been known to house its munitions in the midst of civilian areas. In 2018, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an address to the UN General Assembly, highlighted areas on a map of Beirut where Hezbollah was storing missiles and other munitions. He noted that one such facility was adjacent to the shoreline.
Following the Beirut explosion, videos began circulating showing the presence of subterranean tunnels that were uncovered as a result of the blast. A reporter from Sky News described what she saw as a “labyrinth of subterranean tunnels.” There could have been a benign explanation for the presence of the tunnels but the Lebanese Army, which acts as an auxiliary force for Hezbollah, quickly denied the presence of any tunnels, leading to suspicion that the tunnels had a more malign purpose, such as to store military hardware.
This theory was bolstered by seismological data suggesting that the Beirut blast was preceded by a series of six explosions, five of which were characterized as being consistent with munitions detonations. Boaz Hayoun, a former military engineering officer and explosives expert said that he compiled the seismic data from an array of sensors. Moreover, Hayoun noted that the 140-foot deep crater left by the blast could not have been accomplished solely by the amount of ammonium nitrate reported by Lebanese authorities.
Lebanon is a failed state that has been subsumed by Hezbollah and by extension, Iran. The explosion that leveled much of Beirut and wreaked so much devastation is a mere symptom of a malignant disease, and the disease is Hezbollah.
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Photo credit: mehdi shojaeian