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Did Hezbollah kill Hariri?

Two weeks before Lebanese Parliamentary elections, Der Spiegel has released a blockbuster report contending that U.N. investigators for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have acquired new evidence implicating Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination which took the life of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The piece reports that Lebanese security forces discovered that the mobile ...

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Two weeks before Lebanese Parliamentary elections, Der Spiegel has released a blockbuster report contending that U.N. investigators for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have acquired new evidence implicating Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination which took the life of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The piece reports that Lebanese security forces discovered that the mobile phones used by Hariri’s assassins were often in close proximity to another network of phones, all belonging to members of Hezbollah’s powerful militia.  The investigators received another break, the article claims, when one of Hariri’s killers used his “hot” phone to call his girlfriend, allowing him to be identified as Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, a Hezbollah member who had completed training courses in Iran.

There are good reasons to be skeptical of this story. First, the entire piece is based on the claims of one anonymous source. The timing is also suspicious, with the news breaking just as Lebanon prepares for Parliamentary elections which pit Hezbollah and Saad Hariri’s Future Movement. The story could simply be intended as one of the most macabre voter mobilization effort in recent memory, stoking the anger of the predominantly Sunni Future Movement in order to draw them to the polls. Nor is the author’s explanation for Hezbollah’s motivations in killing Hariri particularly convincing. For what it’s worth, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denounced Der Spiegel’s claims yesterday as an “Israeli accusation.”

Hezbollah has been known to overreach — most recently, with the revelations of a Hezbollah cell operating in Egypt. Involvement in Hariri’s assassination, however, would be Hezbollah’s most spectacular overestimation of their domestic position in history. While the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has officially remained mum on its findings, whenever the court reveals what it has uncovered in the past four years of investigation into Hariri’s murder, it promises to have a significant impact across the Middle East.

MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images

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