ISF official assassinated in Hazmieh

Lebanese cellular networks lock up whenever there is a bombing, as thousands of subscribers instantly take to their phones to contact friends and family either seeking or giving confirmation that no one was hurt. On Friday morning at approximately 10:00 a.m., network failure was the first indication for many Lebanese that yet another explosion had struck the country, as the Chevrolet roundabout in the eastern Beirut suburb of Hazmieh was rocked by a large car bomb.

The target was a vehicle belonging to Captain Wissam Eid, an officer of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch. The explosion, audible throughout eastern Beirut, set cars on fire and threw bodies onto the nearby overpass. Eid, his bodyguard, and three others were killed in the blast.

Eid was a top detective and forensic engineer in the ISF. Speaking to NOW Lebanon, a very high-ranking ISF officer revealed that, “Eid was directly in charge of all the dossiers pertaining to a number of assassinations, including Rafik Hariri and George Hawi.”

The officer added, “[Eid] was the coordinator between the Information Branch and the International Investigation Committee, and he was recently assigned to work on a very sensitive file with this committee.”

Another message

Security sources and politicians quickly branded the attack a message to the ISF and a strike at the international tribunal. Future MP Mustafa Allouch was quoted on Voice of Lebanon radio, saying, “The first message of the attack is directed at Captain Eid himself about the international tribunal and his major role in uncovering several terrorist plots against Lebanon.”

ISF Public Relations Director Lt. Col. Baradei said, “This bomb is a direct message to Rifi and [Information Branch head] Wissam al-Hassan, because Eid was Hassan's office director and his eyes and hands on the ground.”

The Information Branch of the ISF was formed in 2005 under then-acting Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat. Opposition figures have accused the branch of having been created to serve the interests of Future Movement leader Saad Hariri and his allies. Over the past two years, the branch has been greatly expanded in order to combat a growing tide of radical groups such as Fatah al-Islam, and the string of bombings and assassinations that has now touched the branch itself.

Breaking tradition, Syria was one of the first countries to issue a public denouncement of the attack. Most international reactions had yet to trickle in by mid-afternoon on Friday, though Egypt, the US and Russia also issued condemnations. Residents of the North Lebanon town of Deir Ammar, Eid’s hometown, made their outrage at the bombing clear as well, by demonstrating, burning tires and blocking the road from Tripoli to the Syrian border.

A trail of tears

There have been thirteen bombings and one shooting targeting major figures, primarily politicians and journalists, in Lebanon since Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh narrowly survived an attempt on his life in October of 2004. Ten of the bombings have used explosives-laden cars detonated by remote control, as in the attacks on Hariri; Christian MPs Gibran Tueni, Walid Eido and Antoine Ghanem; and Army Director of Operations François al-Hajj. The attacks targeting journalists and intellectuals such as An-Nahar columnist Samir Kassir and LBC reporter May Chidiac were smaller, highly-precise bombs placed in their own vehicles.

Foreign interests have also been targeted in the past few years, with several attacks on UNIFIL forces using roadside bombs. The latest such attack was against a US Embassy vehicle, and it killed three civilians and wounded two Lebanese employees at the embassy. That attack was the first directed against Americans since the end of the civil war. Numerous bombings have also plagued civilian areas, mostly in Christian neighborhoods.

Friday’s bombing is the second assassination targeting Lebanese security institutions, following Brigadier General François al-Hajj’s assassination on December 12. Hajj had been tapped as the next head of the army, to replace General Michel Sleiman once he was elected president.
This latest attack is the first assassination of an ISF official, though it is not the first attempt. Eid survived previous failed assassination attempts, most notably on February 11, 2006, when he was greeted at his front door by a grenade. Though he suffered serious injuries to his hands, he survived. Additionally, on September 5, 2006, ISF Information Branch officer Lt. Col. Samir Shehadeh’s convoy was hit by a remote-controlled bomb in the South Lebanon town of Rmeileh. Both Eid and Shehadeh were deeply involved in the investigation of the Hariri assassination, as well as the arrest of four generals accused of involvement in that attack.

An important figure in the investigations surrounding the string of assassinations, Eid has now become one more piece of the puzzle he himself was trying to solve. His murder is a blow to Lebanon’s stability and increasingly-fragile collective psyche. Importantly, it is also a serious attack on the international tribunal and the search for the masterminds behind the assassinations plaguing Lebanon these past few years. If there is any message to be taken from this deadly blast, it is that now more than ever the Lebanese people must unmask their assailants and bring them to justice.

Hanin Ghaddar contributed reporting to this story.

  • Byteme

    There is no reason for Syria to harm Lebanon! That's why they pulled out whenever they did. For most of their economy comes from the fertile valleys in Leb. As for Hez, A reason to hide evidence, more scare tactics to stop people from talking, and look at Iraq Al saddahr and for a plan for Islam rule of law. Listen to me people of Lenanon! I was there for 2 months, and I know it's a beautiful place. Do not let your religion dictate what you or you're country is about. It is all about what you're striving for. Try peace and harmony, do not force your ideals upon all. Live for a better tommorrow. And believe that everyone has a right to believe in their own god and way of salvat5ion. But let it not effect the lives as your neighbor.

    November 24, 2010

  • Sami

    We have here some great imaginations.We have a BB that claims that Hizeb is advancing Israels interests in Lebanon.This theorist is actually telling us that there is an agreement between Sayyed Hassan and Israel to kill his 19 year old son and to kill 1300 Lebanese civilians and for hizeb to kill 119 Israelis.But BB does not tell us WHY, he does not explain the particulars of the agreement and the purpose or against whom it is directed, or proofs, theories from Mars.

    January 28, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    with these last riots taking place ???sure an irrefutable proof of their " innocence " indeed... i guess we have a different definition of "innocent" ( by the way these innocent groups/lead by a big boss group) are also the only ones boasting about their arms...and 30.000 misciles shamelessly ! as for "hyenas" as you have labelled the victims well then no need to know how you will label the assissins, innocent for sure.

    January 28, 2008

  • Fouad

    GRB OR KGB???you have all that knowledge and saying nothing??shame.i was wondering how long before all you hyenas start pointing your ugly fingers at some innocents group without any proof..but then again welcome to lebanon..

    January 27, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    But this act has riled the Sunni of Tripoli. Syria is 80% Sunni Moslem who have lived under a minority regime. So maybe it was the act of the Syrian Sunni?? I don't think so. They are so feable, having been made that way by 39 years of Alawite autonomous rule, they could not have staged this under the nose of Syrian intelligence operating in Lebanon. This was an Assad facilitated project aimed at liquidating witnesses to the tribunal, a tribunal that will not indict and convict Israelis, but one that will indict and convict elements of the Assad Regime of Syria. Provided, of course, that Assad is not successful in liquidating all of the witnesses first. Remember Ghazi Kenaan's suicide?

    January 26, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    Either way, Syria and Israel are in league against Lebanon. They have always been so. Therefore, any pro Syrian partisan in Lebanon is actually working to advance Israeli interests in Lebanon. Either way, Syria and Israel are in league against Lebanon. They have always been so. Therefore, any pro Syrian partisan in Lebanon is actually working to advance Israeli interests in Lebanon. I think this was a Syrian facilitated job. The Israelis would not have done this as this killing of Eid was a step across the Red Line. The Israelis are more careful. Hafez al Assad was more careful. Bashar al Assad has gotten away with more illegal acts than George Bush and so he has developed a hubris, an attitude that he can do anything and not get caught or be held accountable.

    January 26, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    5. Failing that, Syrian partisans have blocked and boycotted the election of a new President in Lebanon that Syria cannot contol. Some on this board say that Israel is behind the killings. Let us say that this is true, then this means that Israel and Syria are working together as Israel is liquidating the witnesses who could testify against Syria. On the other hand, let us say that Israel is behind the killings in Lebanon from Hariri to Eid, still Syria and Israel are working together, or else why would Syria mobilize its agents in Lebanon and all of its diplomatic efforts to frustrate a Tribunal that would indict Israelis and convict them.

    January 26, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    Just the Facts 1. Eid was the chief investigator into the cell phone calls that were made before and directly after the Hariri Assassination on February 14, 2005. 2. Eid was the primary investigator for the ISF for the other bombings that are the subject of the International Tribunal. 3. Syria tried everything to avoid the formation of the Tribunal from having his partisans in the Lebanese Council of Ministers quit on the day before the vote in the council, to trying to bring down the Siniora government. 4. Since the Special Tribunal was adopted unilaterally by the UN with passage of UNSEC RES 1757 on May 30, 2007, Assad has been active diplomatically and politically to make deals that would cause the Tribunal to be cancelled.

    January 26, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    Since 2005 and especially after July 2006 the opposition accused the ISF (counter-terrorism officers and Internal security ) of being hariri 's men ( also Fatfat's ) and Israeli and all their "HAKEN" and they even accused them of helping fatah aleslam (remember naher al bared) now all the sudden he is a MARTYR ...Like all those killed by Syria and her INTERNAL SPIES, AGENTS who are LEBANESE TRAITORS...Should I say more ?? and If you say so they talk about Flag operation...THE IT IS THEIR END and they are seing it coming hence I would like to add, what Johnny Abdo heralded following the death of MP Ghanem: "As long as Syria's friends within are covering for it and finding excuses, expect from now on an attack each month and even less!" He who got a brain let him use it.

    January 25, 2008

  • Ex Aounsit

    يلي ما بيعرف يعرف هذه العبوات لن يملكها احد في لبنان الا حزب لله الشهيد وسام عيد هو من اكتشف مدبري انفجار اللواءفرنسوا الحج القي القبض على عنصرين من الامن الداخلي تابعين الى اوامر حزب لله هم الذين اشترو السيارة المفخخة التي تم اغتيال الشهيد فرنسوا الحج حزب لله هو الذي وضع الفيتو على فرنسوا الحج لقيادة الجيش

    January 25, 2008