Vehicles with Hezbollah gunmen have reportedly welcomed former General Security Department chief Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed at a tarmac at Beirut airport and took him to the VIP lounge that he used without a previous permit from the foreign ministry, in what was described as “an invasion of the airport.”
MP Okab Sakr told VOL following the arrival of Sayyed at the airport: “Beirut airport was occupied by an outlaw under the protection of groups of outlaws.”
He described Hezbollah’s support for Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed as a “symbol of fragmenting the state.”
An Nahar newspaper said Sunday that following a press conference at the lounge during which he unleashed his rage on several officials, Hezbollah took private security measures to escort Sayyed to his home in Beirut’s Jnah neighborhood.
According to the daily, no one asked the foreign ministry to open the lounge which is usually earmarked for cabinet ministers, MPs and high-level state employees if they were tasked with carrying out missions abroad.
Head of Hezbollah’s Security and Liaison Committee, Wafiq Safa, and his bodyguards were inside one of the vehicles which took Sayyed from the runway to the VIP lounge and then to this home, An Nahar said.
According to reports Hezbollah was preparing for a coup in the event that Sayyed was arrested and had thousands of gunmen deployed throughout the capital and the coastal areas in preparation for such an event.
Sayyed arrived in Beirut from Paris on Saturday afternoon. During his press conference at the lounge, the former security chief launched a vehement attack against Prime Minister Saad Hariri, State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza, Police Chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and Detlev Mehlis, former head of the U.N. investigation into the assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri.
Sayyed along with 3 other generals was detained from 2005 to 2009 on suspicion of involvement in former PM Rafik Hariri’s murder. In April 2009, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL ) ordered their release without charges due to insufficient evidence. STL prosecutor made it clear at the time they were set free that their release did not mean they are Innocent and that once more evidence is available they could be back in jail.
Lebanon Internal Security chief Gen. Ashraf Rifi told Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed on Saturday in a statement:”Prisons are made for you and people like you and for killers under your protection.”
Political tension is mounting in Lebanon as Hezbollah and its allies ratchet up pressure aiming to discredit a United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon ( STL) expected to implicate the Iranian and Syrian backed group in the murder of former Lebanon Premier Rafik Hariri.
The latest salvo came on Thursday when Hezbollah deputies and their allies refused to approve Lebanon’s share of funding for the tribunal, charging that the court was politicized and part of a U.S. and Israeli ploy.
The measure was largely symbolic, however, since Parliament is expected to give its approval and most of this year’s $40 million in funds have already been disbursed by the government.
But it was seen as a further bid to chip away at the credibility of the tribunal and discredit any of its decisions, at least on a local and regional level.
“As far as Hezbollah is concerned, if the Lebanese government decides that the tribunal is null and void, that would be an important step in the right direction,” said Hilal Khashan of at the American University of Beirut, adding, “That way, the tribunal will not have the mechanism for implementing its decisions, especially as far as apprehending indictees in Lebanon.”
STL was created to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Hariri, whose killing triggered international pressure that forced Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon.