Who is Jamil as-Sayyed?

By Sarah Lynch Born in the Bekaa village of al-Nabi Eila, former head of General Security Jamil as-Sayyed has a long political history that has garnered much media attention.

By Sarah Lynch

Born in the Bekaa village of al-Nabi Eila, former head of General Security Jamil as-Sayyed has a long political history that has garnered much media attention. This has been especially true in the past five years, as he was imprisoned on suspicion of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and then later released due to lack of evidence.

Just last week, on September 18, the spotlight was once again drawn to Sayyed when he was escorted out of the Beirut International Airport by Hezbollah security officers following his return from France. The Hezbollah security entourage was present because a summons had been issued for Sayyed to appear in court following a statement he made on September 12 attacking Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

But Sayyed is not Hezbollah’s only high-profile ally. Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is also partnered with the Party of God, making the former head of General Security and the FPM leader indirect allies.

Sayyed’s past, however, is littered with incidents showing his opposition to Aoun, including instances in which police and intelligence agents oppressed Aoun supporters who were demonstrating against the Syrian presence in Lebanon.

1976: Jamil as-Sayyed joined the First Brigade of the Lebanese army in the Bekaa Valley. Prior to this he was stationed in Beirut, where he served with the armed corps. The First Brigade was under the control of Brigadier General Ibrahim Shaheen, who, under Syrian supervision, established the Arab Lebanese Army. At this time, Sayyed began to form links with the Syrian government.

1977: Sayyed took control of the First Brigade’s intelligence branch.

1984: Colonel Michel Rahbani was transferred to Beirut, and Sayyed was appointed chief intelligence officer in the Bekaa Valley.

1989-1990: Sayyed headed security for former Lebanese President Elias Hrawi.

1992: He was appointed deputy chief of military intelligence.

1998: Then-President Emile Lahoud appointed Sayyed as the head of General Security. The two worked closely together.

1999-2001: Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir, who frequently spoke out against the Syrian presence in Lebanon, was under surveillance by General Security.

2000: Sayyed was assigned with the task of cross-examining potential candidates for the soon-to-be-formed parliament and cabinet.

2001: Members of the Lebanese intelligence services, under Sayyed’s direction, arrested anti-Syrian protesters on August 9. Anti-Syrian Christian demonstrators, who were also Aoun followers, protested against a series of arrests made by army intelligence the previous day. (AFP photo/Joseph Barrak)
2002: Supporters of Michel Aoun were soaked when police fired a water canon at students during a sit-in at a Beirut university on October 31. The anti-Syrian, Christian opposition demonstrated to "defend freedoms" and put pressure on Lebanon's pro-Syrian government to resign.(AFP photo/Anwar Amro)
2004: A Lebanese student makes the sign for victory as he is sprayed with water by police on March 12. Five hundred students gathered for the 15th anniversary of Michel Aoun's declaration of a "war of liberation" against Syria. The demonstration resulted in clashes between students and police forces. Seven students were arrested to be held for questioning.(AFP photo/Ramzi Haidar)
2005: Following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, Cedar Revolution demonstrators demanded that Sayyed resign. He handed his position as head of General Security over to his deputy, Asaad Taesh, on May 5. On August 25, Sayyed was arrested on suspicion of involvement in Hariri’s murder. He was held in prison for four years. (AFP photo)
2010: On September 12, Sayyed said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri “should take a lie detector test to prove he did not support or fund false witnesses in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.” (AFP photo)

On September 18, he spoke to the press upon arrival at the Beirut International Airport. His earlier attack on Hariri prompted many responses, and led Lebanon’s top prosecutor, Judge Said Mirza, to summon Sayyed for questioning. Hezbollah, however, called on the judiciary to revoke Mirza’s decision, calling it politicized.

Read the complete article: Now Lebanon