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NOW

Who is Hassan Merhi?

On Thursday, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, charged with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafiq Hariri, publicized its indictment of a new suspect, Hassan Merhi.

 

Although scant information is publicly available on the suspect, the Tribunal and Al-Jadeed television have provided biographical information on him.

                                                                       

The STL described Merhi—who was born December 12, 1965 in Beirut to Habib Merhi and Latifa Abbas—as a “Hezbollah supporter.”

 

Meanwhile, Al-Jadeed television in March reported that Merhi does not occupy a leadership position in the party, adding that he was known among his peers as “Hajj Rabih.”

 

The station cited sources in the STL as saying that Merhi obtained his moniker after a pilgrimage he made following the 2006 July War to Mecca, where he was detained by Saudi authorities.

                                                          

The STL’s indictment charged Merhi with participating in a conspiracy with Mustafa Badreddine, 52, Salim Ayyash, 49, Hussein Anaissi, 39, and Assad Sabra, 36, aimed at committing a terrorist act to assassinate Rafiq Hariri.

 

According to the STL, Merhi, along with Badreddine, coordinated the preparation of the false claim of responsibility and at times was in contact with Ayyash in relation to the preparations for the attack.

 

The indictment added that prior to the attack, Merhi coordinated with fellow indicted suspects Oneissi and Sabra in order to identify a suitable individual, later identified as Ahmad Abu Adass, who would be used to make a video-taped false claim of responsibility for the attack.

 

Following the February 14, 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others, Al-Jazeera ran a tape on behalf of a fictional Islamist terror group claiming responsibility for the attack.

 

The Tribunal accused Merhi of ensuring the delivery of the video to Al-Jazeera with an accompanying letter containing a false claim of responsibility to Al-Jazeera.

 

In 2011, the UN-backed court indicted four Hezbollah members for Hariri’s murder.

 

The tribunal has set a provisional January, 2014 start date for the blockbuster trial.

According to the STL, Merhi, along with Badreddine, coordinated the preparation of the false claim of responsibility and at times was in contact with Ayyash in relation to the preparations for the attack.