The Curious Case Of Col. Wissam El Hassan

If you thought that the CBC report was a slam dunk by the Hariri alliance against Hezbollah, I’m afraid you got the wrong idea.

There’s a part of the report that casts doubt on the role of Colonnel Wissam El Hassan in the crime. Col. Hassan is firmly in the Hariri camp and the fact that his name was brought up by the CBC report as a suspect has caused dissonance in many minds. Col. Hassan remains one of those targeted by Hezbollah as a “false witnesse”, so what gives?

According to the CBC, col. Hassan was supposed to be in the Hariri convoy the day he was killed, but he didn’t show up and gave what the CBC calls “flimsy” alibis. He also supposedly lied about a phone call he made before the crime.

The fact that Col. Hassan’s name came out makes the picture muddier and will cause great confusion. STL skeptics like Angry Arab are saying that this (among other details) will be a blow to the credibility of the CBC report

to accuse the key intelligence guy in the Hariri camp, Al-Hasan, of complicity is to turn the investigation into a farce. This Wisam Hasan was so key to UN investigation that he was even used (at least in the case of “false witness”, Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq) as the official interpretor of the UN team

Alas, this thing is turning into a mess. Let’s hope we get more clarity soon.

→ Respond to this post On Twitter
  • CopyCat

    Isn’t it obvious that all this convoluted scenario is as scripted, fabricated and artificial as Sex in the City 2? It is never about clarity, dude, it is all about this – quoting that film Basic with Travolta: as long as we tell the story right. The story has to be convincing enough to the public opinion who would go “humph”, but it will never be admissible in court. Look at it this way: If the U.S. government cannot pin down 9/11 on Osama bin Laden enough to take it to court (read all the literature about it), but KNOWS that he was behind it, then how on earth can anyone convince us that you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Hezbollah did it? With a flow chart and excel sheets? This may convince Abu Foss in Tari2 el Jdideh and El Khan el Ati2, but it will not convince anyone with two brain cells and a degree.

  • Shiwa7ad

    I don’t see anything turning in a mess. This is just a report by a media outlet, which has many flaws. I believe (and I might be wrong) that the documents presented are authentic, but what does this mean ? It is perhaps the opinion of a single investigator about Wissam el Hassan. Also el Hassan might very well have lied concerning his alibi without being guilty of the murder. The report does have factual errors:
    for example :
    “”His alibi is weak and inconsistent,” says a confidential UN report that labels Hassan a “possible suspect in the Hariri murder.”

    That report, obtained by CBC News, was prepared in late 2008 for Garry Loeppky, a former senior RCMP official who had taken over as the UN’s chief investigator that summer.”
    [...]
    “But Brammertz, the second UN commissioner, flatly ruled that out. He considered Hassan too valuable a contact and any such investigation as too disruptive.”

    In late 2008 Brammertz didn’t lead the investigation anymore.
    So he couldn’t have flatly ruled out anything.

  • Shiwa7ad

    CopyCat:

    Who said that the USA cannot pin down on Osama bin Laden the 9/11 attack? Bin Laden showed videos of Atta before he flew the airliner into the building, the evidence against Atta and other Al-Qaeda members is overwhelming. It’s only in the mind of conspiracy theorists that no evidence against Al Qaeda exists.
    There are people who already have been sentenced by US courts to life imprisonment. (Zacarias al mousawi, for instance).

    I don’t know about the count of my brain cells, but I certainly have a degree. And there is nothing surprising about using Excel to crack this case. Any algorithm can be coded using Excel Macros, no matter how complex. If you can do it in C, Java, Matlab, Mathematica, then you can do it with an Excel macro. Of course it might not be the most elegant or usable or fastest tool for the task, but it certainly can work. The algorithms used for this task were probably things like so-called “connected components” algorithms for which C or Java or specialized code libraries are better adapted, but that can be very well coded in Excel.
    OK so if you want to develop a symbolic algebra package it might be much easier to use Mathematica rather than code it yourself in Excel, but in this case I don’t see anything that rules out the use of Excel.

  • CopyCat

    The UK government said that there isn’t enough evidence to take OBL to court, not me, nor conspiracy theorists, here you go: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Usama Bin Laden in a court of law. Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information available HMG is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.”
    reference:
    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/number10.gov.uk/archive/2003/05/september-11-attacks-culpability-document-3682

    Why not MS Paint? I can draw you a nice picture of Nasrallah pushing the detonator….I don’t believe one single claim of the So-Called Tribunal for Lebanon, sorry. Nothing short of physical evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, phone RECORDINGS will convince me. This, meanwhile, is rubbish and can be easily fabricated and crunched….

    • Charbel

      What’s the point? The paragraph you chose from the link you sent is just a disclaimer at a top of a document!!! The entire article is just evidence that Oussama ben Laden did it! This link is the evidence that he did it, not the contrary:)

  • CopyCat

    I know that Bin Laden did it. the point is that they can’t prove it in court, and that’s why Bin Laden is not wanted for 9/11 officially, but only for crimes he committed before where there is damning evidence. Why is that so difficult for you peeps to understand?

  • Shiwa7ad

    OK so there might not be enough to convict Bin Laden personally, just as there might not be enough to convict Nasrallah personally, (and still if Bin Laden for some reason surrenders, I am somehow convinced that they wouldn’t just let him walk away because they don’t have enough evidence), but there has been several Al Qaeda members who have been sentenced, and against whom admissible evidence exists, as I said, Zacarias al Mousawi and others. So maybe there won’t be enough evidence against Nasrallah, but there might be enough evidence against lower ranked people in Hezbollah

    All the evidence that you mentioned can also be fabricated if you don’t trust any lab and any person outside of Hezbollah and unlike what you claimed, it is not so easy to fake phone data, see the discussion at qifanabki.com. The issue is that there is plenty of redundant data that is recorded by phone networks, and if the data is tampered with, inconsistencies would show.
    That said, the contents of CBC report is not by itself enough for an indictment, let alone a guilty verdict, by the admission of the report itself. Reportedly there has been additional evidence for an indictment, but the evidence is circumstantial.

  • CopyCat

    but the evidence is circumstantial….No further questions, your honor. The STL is court of law, not a court of public opinion, I hope. You know, there was also a lot of “circumstantial evidence” that pointed out that Saddam and al-Qaeda were linked (which turned out to be utter bullcrap) and all the stuff about Saddam’s WMDs which led to an invasion and the wrongful prosecution of figures in the Iraqi regime (not that they were innocent, but the prosecution was completely wrongful). Why does not the UN prosecute Bush and Blair for falsfying premises for an invasion? Why does not the UN prosecute Olmert for war crimes in Gaza? And why is the UN prosecuting Hariri’s killers? DO you not see any ulterior motives behind the neglection of some crimes and the prosecution of others, which so conveniently has arrived at indicting (soon) the enemies of the U.S and Israel?

    again: puh-lease

  • Shiwa7ad

    Circumstantial evidence doesn’t mean unreliable evidence.
    If a person with a history of delusions and mental disease declares having seen X stabbing Y to death, that’s direct evidence, but unreliable evidence. If two cameras recorded all entries and exits into a room that has only one door and no windows, and it recorded Y entering the room that was initially empty, and then X entering the same room, and then X leaving without the knife, and then Y is found in the room stabbed with the same knife in his back, and the two cameras were installed by people who didn’t know about the other camera being installed, and the recordings were guarded by several guards belonging to different security companies, and who didn’t know one another beforehand, then you have very strong and reliable circumstantial evidence that X stabbed Y.
    Admittedly the evidence revealed in the CBC report is not anywhere near the level of evidence in my example.
    But saying that you would reject circumstantial evidence just because it is circumstantial is absurd.

    As to ulterior motives… well the Tribunal was established as the result of a vote in the security council. Each country voted probably according to what it considers its interest. Certainly the same thing would not happen for the killing of Al-Mabhouh. This doesn’t mean that all evidence that it will present can be faked. It doesn’t mean either that no evidence can be faked. People can exercise their judgment, thank you.

    As to the fact that the US is a powerful country that has veto power on the security council, and that most crimes committed by US troops during the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan probably won’t ever be prosecuted, I don’t see what this implies as to the reliability of the evidence gathered by the STL. If your point is that the UN doesn’t imply in itself moral perfection, then I am with you. If your point is that there is no moral duty to accept anything the UN tribunal does, well it depends on your moral values. I am sure that all Al-Qaeda members who took part in 9-11 thought they were doing a perfectly moral thing. Of course I am not accusing you of being either Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah (regardless of whether you would consider either accusation as insult or praise). I am just saying that if you’re talking about morality then this is an entirely different story that I don’t wish to discuss.

    If on the other hand you mean that some members of the investigation team or the prosecution may have an interest in leading the inquiry in one direction or the other, well, that happens in all investigations. But the defendants have rights. There will be lawyers who will fight tooth and nail to defend them. No one is obliged to believe what the prosecution says directly. It will present evidence, and everyone will keep in mind that the prosecution has an interest in proving the defendants guilty, don’t worry. But that the mere label of “circumstantial” or “UN” or “telecom” will be enough to discredit any evidence that may bear any of these labels, no, sorry. We can exercise our judgment.

    Concerning the “evidence” presented by CBC, nothing can be said about it. Even assuming the documents are authentic, we don’t know whether they represent the current point of view of Bellemare, or only the view of some lower ranked investigator at some point in the past. As to their story, as Moustapha reported, they completely bungled their timeline.

  • CopyCat

    No, it is not absurd to reject circumstantial evidence in such a massive case that would change the fate of an entire nation. Extraordinary claims need require extraordinary evidence, and nothing short of that is acceptable. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence linking Rafik Hariri and Siniora to corruption cases to put them behind bars for decades for what they did to the country, but sadly, there is no paper trail left by these two to take them to court.
    Volumes can be written about the inappropriateness of the STL’s work. How about its constitutionality in Lebanese law to begin with? This court is not constitutional and it is public opinion, not out judiciary, that led to its formation. THe problem is much more fundamental than the politicization of the STL, which is a fact to anyone who is not blinded by hatred for Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. the STL itself is in broach of our sovereignty, and the Lebanese people was not consulted before this happened. It was “smuggled” without the due chain of command.
    In short, I and with me a great many of Lebanese do not trust the STL and reject it categorially. Let me say something else here: I do not care about finding the truth about Hariri, if the STL does not care about finding the truth about Rashid Karame, for example. Who is Rafik Hariri? To his fans, he is almost a saint. For non-fans like me, who are Lebanese whether you like it or not, he is an usurper of power who was involved in a game much bigger than him, and who switched side when the Syrian side was no longer the winning side. He died as a result of this. Plain and simple. Finding the truth about him, but not about other assassinations before him, will heal no wounds, and deter no one from assassinating. If we stop Syria and Hezbollah from assassinating people, as you claim they are the perpetrators, how will the STL stop Israel and the U.S.A from assassinating their enemies? Why should I support something that is as deeply flawed that it will empower Israel and the U.S, and weaken Syria, Iran and Hezbollah? What I want is for a UN body to prosecute all those who meddled in our affairs, not just focus on one party. Believe me, the U.S and Israel do not have our best interests in mind, and international justice is a mere tool to advance U.S. interests these days.

  • Shiwa7ad

    First of all I don’t see why the indictment will change the entire nation. Both sides have been accusing each other for years. Nasrallah accused M14 politicians of plotting for the ethnic cleansing of the Shias and their mass deportation to Iraq during the July war. Apparently that didn’t change the face of the nation.
    So I don’t see why the mere accusation by a body you seem to consider as utterly discredited would change the face of the nation.
    Second I really don’t believe there is no evidence against corruption, I think there is plenty of evidence, but everyone is corrupt, but anyway that’s off-topic.
    Third, the STL is now independent of Lebanese will. It was voted by the security council. Lebanon did have to abandon some sovereignty, but the alternative to that would be to give sovereignty to the party with military superiority. So there wouldn’t be any real sovereignty. Concerning popular will: certainly the STL was not subjected to a referendum. But nothing is in Lebanon: neither the weapons of the Hezb, nor civil marriage, nor anything else. So it is not more or less popularly legitimate than other things.
    Fourth, I don’t see why accusing Hezbollah is an extraordinary claim. Hezbollah allies were calling Hariri a traitor. Hezbollah had the means to kill Hariri. Israel never made use of a suicide bomber in any assassination, unlike Hezbollah. All that is not evidence, but there is no reason to consider Hezbollah as less suspect than any other Lebanese party. Assassinations mysteriously stopped after Doha, and even more significantly, some politicians renounced their security escorts just after the agreement. Again this is not evidence per se. But calling the claim extraordinary ? Hardly.
    You don’t care about Rafik Hariri. Well neither do I. I didn’t like him, and (really) I refused a job offer in one of his companies that was made to me by a friend just because I didn’t like his political line. That’s totally irrelevant. The issue is not about Rafik Hariri. The issue is about who used two tons of explosives to kill a politician and many innocents in the middle of Beirut, Sunnis, Christians and Shias, indiscriminately. And the issue is about who was using car bombs in densely populated areas of Beirut during two years. In short, who was using terrorism. This is the issue, not Hariri.
    And the side who was doing that was powerful. It had ways to know that Gebran Tueini came back from France and track him. It had ways to smuggle explosives. It was able to follow Hariri and communicate his position to the suicide bomber.
    If it is Hezbollah I want to know this, and if it is Wissam Hassan I want to know this, and I want everyone to know it. As to Rashid Karami: I don’t know who killed him, but this has much less importance to me, because this was during the war period and all the likely culprits (civil war militias) were already known to have acted as criminals during the war period in other cases, and believe me, it does cost them, even if not as much as one could hope for. You claim that this will not fix anything, and that murders will continue: well in all countries there are murders in spite of the presence of tribunals, and this is generally not considered a reason for the abolition of tribunals. In every country there are unsolved murders: these are generally not considered a reason to stop attempting to solve others, on the basis that it would be unfair to murderers, and that they should be treated equally.
    As to your question, why should you support something that in your opinion will empower Israel and the US and weaken Syria and Iran, first it will not weaken either Syria or Iran militarily. Second, assuming that Syria and Iran blew up two tons of explosives in the middle of Beirut, and then used car bombs in most areas of Lebanon, and assuming you are Lebanese, in my opinion it would be in your interest that these actions carry some cost, if only in terms of public opinion.
    And certainly if your concern is about not weakening the military stance of Syria facing Israel, don’t worry about it, the Syrian Army will continue fighting as heroically as it did in the last 25 years, and the Golan front will continue to be as active.
    How will the STL stop Israel and the US from killing their enemies ? It won’t, just as the tribunal doesn’t have the power to stop any militia from killing anyone in Lebanon. But this doesn’t mean that the tribunal cannot exact a cost. Israel killed al Mabhouh and may kill others; but still the photographs published by the Dubai police shamed it and made its agents wanted in many countries of the world. The agents escaped capture and punishment, as would probably be the case for the Hariri assassination. Still there was a cost to pay for the Israelis. Same thing from the Khaled Meshaal assassination attempt. It does seem it made the Israelis think twice, at least for some time, before attempting another attack of the same kind.

  • CopyCat

    Interesting points you make. Completely disagree about Israel though. Nothing has deterred Israel from carrying on being who it is EXACTLY because no punishment has been exacted. I was not talking about the indictment. I was talking about a verdict against Hezbollah. Even if Hezbollah did it, (it’s probably Syria that did it to be honest), a verdict against Hezbollah without a verdict against the perpetrators of other assassinations is pointless. The civil war never ended. It just moved into a cold civil war or a state of hibernation under Taef (hibernation that can only be kept by Syria, it seems). So no, the assassinations from Kamel Mroueh, to Kamal Jomblatt and Rashid Karameh are all relevant because they are all in the same context (and hence M14 puts their images, or some of them anyway, in its PR campaigns). Why investigate something that happened after 2005, and ignore 30 years of assassinations? Why wasn’t Elie Hubeika included? is it because he was pro-Syrian? Is it because he was probably killed by Israel?