Hariri Murder Suspect: Lebanese Authorities Know Where I live
One of the four Hizbullah members accused of involvement in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination has said that the Lebanese authorities would have arrested him if they wanted to.
"I don't care about the indictments. Let them come to arrest me," the man told TIME in an exclusive interview, which he gave on condition of anonymity despite having been publicly named by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon among the four suspects.
The STL indictment alleges the plot's mastermind is Mustafa Badreddine, a Hizbullah commander and the suspected bomb maker who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 Americans.
The other suspects are Salim Ayyash, also known as Abu Salim; Assad Sabra; and Hussein Oneissi, who changed his name to Hassan Issa.
“The Lebanese authorities know where I live, and if they wanted to arrest me they would have done it a long time ago. Simply, they cannot,” he said.
During a recent conversation with a Hizbullah source, the TIME reporter found himself introduced to the suspect who arrived alone aboard a scooter at the home of his Hizbullah comrade. While discussing the indictments, he revealed his true identity and confirmed it by showing an old ID card, but agreed to be interviewed only on condition that neither his nor the location be revealed.
The suspect said Hizbullah would have turned him over from the first day to the so-called international justice if he was involved in Hariri’s Feb. 14, 2005 assassination in a suicide truck bombing at the Beirut seafront.
Time said that the four accused Hizbullah men are rumored to be living openly and without fear of arrest in areas under Hizbullah’s control.
When the suspect was asked why he agreed to the interview, he said: “I want to send a message to the world that I wasn't involved in the assassination of Rafik Hariri and that all the charges attributed to me are empty.”
The suspect played down the circumstantial evidence in the indictment such as mobile phone records.
“Everyone knows that the Mossad can manipulate the cellphone data with the help of spies, and some of the spies were arrested which gives clear evidence that Israel can manipulate the telecommunications data,” he said.
When asked where he was on the day Hariri was assassinated, the suspect said: “I was carrying out my (military) work and I cannot reveal where, but I can prove that I wasn't in the area of (the) Saint George (Hotel), the place of the assassination, and I was at least an hour-and-a-half away from that area.”
The suspect accused Israel of assassinating Hariri, saying the STL should “go to Israel which has the first and only interest in the killing of Hariri.”
“Can't you see that the only beneficiary from this assassination is Israel and its allies?” he asked his interviewer.