Posted by: Lister | December 14, 2007

General Francois al-Hajj

Reuters says:

Brigadier General Francois al-Hajj was killed in a car bomb on Wednesday, the ninth figure to be assassinated in Lebanon in less than three years. He was the first military officer to be killed. The other attacks targeted anti-Syrian figures.

Hajj, who had good ties to Syria’s allies in Lebanon including Hezbollah, had been tipped to take over as army chief from General Michel Suleiman, who could be elected president by parliament as early as next week.

From al-Jazeera:

On Wednesday, security agents detained four Lebanese in whose names the car used in the bombing was registered, a security official said.

The individuals were detained near Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, which is considered to be a base for radical Palestinian fighters.

Authorities are investigating if the assassination was planned by al-Qaeda-inspired fighters seeking vengeance against al-Hajj. The commander led operations against fighters from Fatah al-Islam, which is ideologically close to al-Qaeda, hiding in a Palestinian refugee camp this year.

Fatah al-Islam was defeated by the Lebanese army after 15 weeks of fighting at the Nahr al-Bared camp, near the northern city of Tripoli.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for al-Hajj’s killing.

All schools and universities have been closed in Lebanon as part of the day of mourning.

Ya-Libnan goes further with its allegations. Lebanon mourns slain army General Francois al-Hajj:

Hajj played a leading role in the battle against al Qaeda-inspired militants at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon earlier this year.

That has led to speculation that an Islamist group may have been behind yesterday’s blast which killed two other people. But many in the anti-Syrian political bloc believe Damascus was linked to the attack, just like it was linked to the Fatah al-Islam terrorists of Nahr el Bared Palestinian refugee camp…

They go on to say that al-Absi is in Syria. I commented on the al-Absi post I made earlier in the year.

The NY Times says:

Some speculation focused on the possibility of revenge by Fatah al Islam, the jihadist group that lost a bitter fight against the army in the refugee camp. But one senior Lebanese Army official said the methods used in the bombing were too sophisticated for Fatah al Islam.

“The way the bomb was placed rules out the possibility of a personal account,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the news media. “It requires infiltration, someone who is familiar with the area and knows what time the general leaves his house every day.”

[…] Members of the American-backed parliamentary majority, known as the March 14 alliance, said General Hajj had been their preferred candidate for army chief — a broad hint that the assassination was aimed at them.

But Michel Aoun, a Christian leader in the opposition alliance backed by Syria and Iran, disputed that, saying he too supported General Hajj, with whom he had been close since Mr. Aoun was himself the top army commander in the late 1980s.

That last link from Augustus Norton, who also has a personal tribute to al-Hajj on his blog.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hajj killing departs from hits on anti-Syrian figures:

    Hajj’s death could be read as a message regarding Suleiman’s candidacy, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame University.

    “The army is involved in the political process, and the only candidate is General Suleiman,” Hanna said. “Maybe some people don’t want it.”

    […] “If it was a political killing, it sends a very big message to the current head of the army: Don’t think that just because you’re the head of the army, you’re immune,” Salem said. “If you’re going to be involved politically, don’t think that you’re going to be safer than politicians..” [That’s Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center (CMEC)]

    In addition to Hajj’s position as a military leader, his political stance also separates him from the list of recent assassination victims, Saad-Ghorayeb said. The seven politicians killed since February 2005, as well as journalist Samir Kassir, stood clearly against Syria, while many viewed Hajj as partial toward the Syrian-backed March 8 opposition, she added.

    […] The LAF leadership, including Suleiman and Hajj, has refrained from openly proclaiming allegiance to either of Lebanon’s rival political camps, which differ diametrically on their positions toward Damascus. The Hizbullah-led opposition did raise Suleiman’s name as a potential consensus candidate months ago, before the Western-backed March 14 coalition began pushing for Suleiman two weeks ago.

    […] But Hanna dismissed any notion that March 14 figures were involved in Hajj’s assassination “Nobody from March 14 would dare kill him,” Hanna said. “Some people are accusing the Lebanese Forces. This is nonsense. Nobody would dare, locally.”

    But at the same time, “it doesn’t mean the Syrians are the perpetrators,” he added.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: