In this scene from The Syrian, Sonia Rizk, a former war correspondent, turned investigative journalist, is going over her notes with her assistant Ali. They are trying to determine who killed Rafic Hariri. Neither of them believes it was the Syrians who killed him.
On February 14, 2005, Rafic Hariri, along with twenty-one others, was killed in a massive explosion when his motorcade passed by the St. George Hotel along the Corniche.”
Ali interrupted the monologue. “The explosion ruptured water pipelines and threw sand and debris along with cars and bodies onto the Corniche and into the sea.”
After making a notation on that page, Sonia closed the file and picked up another one labeled ‘How as Hariri killed.’
Again she read aloud.
“Lebanese officials claimed a Mitsubishi truck laden with TNT, parked near the site of the crime, was detonated as Hariri’s motorcade passed. However, French investigators were quick to point out that a surface explosion could not have left a crater some 40 feet by 12 feet deep.
“French military experts argued instead that the explosion was caused by a new weapon combining nuclear and nanotechnology that could trigger the explosion and regulate its strength. The explosion that killed Hariri generated a blast of extreme heat and of brief duration. This would explain why the flesh exposed to the blast was instantly carbonized, and why the part of the body facing the ground was not burned.
“High density objects like Hariri’s gold watch absorbed the heat and were destroyed but low density things like his shirt collar, which didn’t have time to absorb the heat, were unaffected.”
“One of the passengers who survived was flown to a French military hospital where it was discovered that he’d come in contact with enriched uranium,” Ali said. “This clearly points to some kind of penetrating weapon.”
“Yes,” said Sonia, “one that has a delayed fusing system that allowed it to penetrate a surface before it exploded. And because the explosion occurred within a small area, the energy from the blast caused a huge crater.”
Ali nodded. “Like a guided missile launched from a plane, or a small missile fired from a drone.
“And since all the evidence was removed from the crime scene immediately following the assassination, we may never know for sure. And we still don’t know if the evidence was destroyed, or if it was taken out of the country, as some suspect.”
Ali cocked his head. “Didn’t you discover that Hariri’s car was equipped with a sophisticated jamming device?”
“Yes,” said Sonia, “and it would have been impossible to trigger the explosion by remote control without first deactivating the interference system built into the car. The system was made by Netline Communications, an Israeli-owned company.”
“Unfortunately, all circumstantial evidence…not hard facts,” Ali said.
“I know,” Sonia replied, “but there is evidence that an Israeli drone was monitoring Hariri’s route the day he was killed, and that the U.S. was flying AWACS over Lebanon that day. Their live feeds would have helped to establish the presence of a drone and its flight pattern, but the U.S. refused to hand over the footage to Lebanese authorities.”
Ali stood up. “This story is extremely sensitive, Sonia. We need to tread very carefully. It’s going to be a challenge to write it with incriminating but not irrefutable evidence and still sound objective.
“Maybe the best way to approach it is to present the evidence like a criminal lawyer would—in other words, look at who had he most to gain from Hariri’s assassination.”
Sonia thumbed through the file and pulled out a page. “In one of our articles we should include this quote from Patrick Seale’s article ‘Who Killed Rafic Hariri?’ in The Guardian dated February 22, 2005. That was one week after the assassination. Here’s what he wrote:
‘If Syria killed Hariri it must be judged as an act of political suicide. Syria is already under great international pressure from the U.S., France and Israel…To kill Hariri would be to destroy Syria’s reputation and hand its enemies a weapon with which to deliver a blow that could finally destabilize the Damascus regime…If Syria did not kill Hariri, who could have? There is no shortage of potential candidates including far-right Christians anxious to rouse opinion against Syria, Islamic extremists and, of course, Israel, whose ambition has long been to weaken Syria and sever its strategic alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. Israel has great experience at targeted assassinations across the Middle East…Syria, Hezbollah and Iran have stood up against U.S. and Israeli hegemony over the region.’”
“Good idea to use that,” Ali said. “It’s a solid piece of journalism. We may never prove categorically who killed Hariri, but we can keep working on it.”
“Look, we already know certain things to be facts,” said Sonia. “Within days of the assassination, the U.S. blamed Syria for Hariri’s death. They demanded that the Syrian Army immediately withdraw its 30,000 troops from Lebanon. Syria bowed to international pressure and by the second week of March 2005 pulled its troops out of the country. Six months ago the U.S. went before the U.N. and demanded the formation of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the assassination.”
“And the intent of the Special Tribunal was to prove Syria’s guilt,” Ali said. “Witnesses confessed that Syria was behind the murder. The testimonies, it turn s out, were produced by false witnesses.”
“Hezbollah then became the default suspect when the Syrian ‘false witness’ story came to light. Both Israel and the U.S. have sought a way to discredit and destroy Hezbollah ever since it forced Israeli out of south Lebanon in 2000. They’ll now use the Special Tribunal to accomplish this. And an indictment against a Shiite leader for the assassination of a Sunni leader would spark a Shiite-Sunni civil war in Lebanon and across the region.”
“It’s impressive theorizing, but still not enough to prove anything.”
He was right, thought Sonia. Solid, iron clad evidence was difficult to come by, unless, of course, someone got careless. Sonia hoped her Israeli spy/now lover would be that person. She knew it was up to her to get him to talk. And she knew how to do it.
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