European Union officials say they are reluctant to designate Hizballah a terrorist organization because it is represented in the Lebanese parliament and continuing to engage the group "could bring them closer to the democratic process." This argument seems almost surreal in the wake of a report that the United Nations special tribunal investigating the February 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has concluded that Hizballah was behind the murder.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reports that Lebanese investigators have found evidence that Hizballah special forces were involved in killing Hariri, a bitter political rival of Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. This contradicts the findings of an earlier U.N. tribunal which concluded in late 2005 that Syrian security forces and senior Lebanese officials were responsible.
A new United Nations special tribunal on the assassination which began work March 1 has found that Hizballah was behind the bombing of the motorcade in which Hariri and 22 others were killed. Lebanese security forces told that they had found a network of mobile phones used in the Hariri assassination. The magazine reported that:
"All of the numbers apparently belong to the 'operational arm' of Hezbollah, which maintains a militia in Lebanon that is more powerful than the regular Lebanese Army. While part of the Party of God [Hizballah] acts like a normal political organization participating in democratic elections and appointing cabinet ministers, the other part uses less savory tactics, such as abductions near the Israeli border and terrorist attacks, such as those committed against Jewish facilities in South America in 2002 and 2004."
Der Spiegel reported that investigators discovered which Hizballah member acquired the small truck used in the attack and were able to trace the origins of the explosives.
The trail eventually led investigators to the identity of the man they suspect of masterminding the Hariri killing: Hajj Salim, 45, who is believed to be the commander of Hizballah's military wing. He has largely assumed the duties of Imad Mugniyeh, one of the world's most notorious terrorists, who was assassinated in Damascus in February 2008. Salim's Special Operational Unit of Hizballah reports directly to Nasrallah, (who also serves as Hizballah's political leader) and to General Kassim Sulaimani in Tehran.
In response to the Der Spiegel article, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Nasrallah.