Understanding the Der Spiegel Upheaval

The article published in Der Spiegel accusing Hezbollah of being behind the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, appears to use conceivably correct information to arrive at a conclusion the article itself never really substantiates: namely that "it was not the Syrians, but instead special forces of [Hezbollah] that planned and executed the diabolical attack." At most, the article declares that Syria "is not being declared free of the suspicion of involvement," but that "President Bashar Assad is no longer in the line of fire."

The author, Erich Follath, tells us what French journalist Georges Malbrunot already did in an August 2006 article for the daily Le Figaro. Malbrunot, like Follath, reported that the investigation of telephone intercepts after Hariri's killing revealed that one of those involved in the crime had broken protocol by calling a friend outside the circle of assassins. This mistake led Lebanese investigators to discover that the alleged assassin had ties with Hezbollah.

Malbrunot did not name the person, but Follath does. He may be Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, he writes, whose "recklessness led investigators to the man they now suspect was the mastermind of the terrorist attack: Hajj Salim ... considered to be the commander of the 'military' wing of Hezbollah ... [whose] secret 'Special Operations Unit' reports directly to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah."

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