The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Wednesday released the indictment of four Hizballah operatives for the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Much of the information about the suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others had been previously reported.
But the indictments provide more details of the case put together by STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare against the four men accused of the crime. As this analysis points out, the case relies overwhelmingly on mobile phone data records in an attempt to show that four Hizballah operatives conspired to bomb Hariri's motorcade.
By analyzing mobile phone records, prosecutors say they pieced together the movements of Hizballah cell members in the months leading up to the bombing. They believe Mustafa Badreddine, who masterminded the attack, and Salim Jamil Ayyash, who coordinated the hit team's actions, wanted someone to make a video falsely claiming to have carried out the suicide attack on Hariri in order to throw investigators off their trail.
According to the tribunal, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra, the other suspects, were responsible for finding the patsy: a 22-year-old Palestinian man named Abu Adass who attended a Beirut mosque. Adass reportedly disappeared after meeting Oneissi a month before the attack and has not been seen since. Forensic examination of the suicide attacker's corpse showed Adass was not the bomber, according to the indictment.
Badreddine and Ayyash are brothers in law of Imad Mugniyeh. Mugniyeh, who headed Hizballah's military wing from 1983 until his death in February 2008, planned scores of terrorist attacks including the October 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 Americans.
Badreddine was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the coordinated bombings of the U.S. and French embassies and other targets in Kuwait on Dec. 12, 1983, in which six people were killed. The attacks were carried out by the Kuwait 17, members of an Iranian-backed Shiite terror group called Al-Dawa.
Throughout the 1980s, Hizballah operatives who hijacked planes and kidnapped Americans in Lebanon demanded freedom for Badreddine and other members of the Kuwait 17. He escaped from prison in Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion in August 1990 and is rumored to be in Iran.
In a televised speech Wednesday night, Hizballah boss Hassan Nasrallah disputed the tribunal's charges, calling the suspects "honorable members of the resistance" and terming the Hariri investigation an example of "injustice."