During a recent conversation with a Hezbollah source, a TIME reporter found himself introduced to one of the four members of the organization accused of playing a role in the assassination of Lebanon’s former PM Rafik Hariri.
The accused man arrived alone aboard a scooter at the home of his Hezbollah 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 name nor the location be revealed.
TIME: Why did you agree to this interview?
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.
TIME: But what can you say about the cellphone data analysis?
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. If the tribunal was built on [genuine] evidence I would have given myself [up] from the first day.
TIME: Let’s go back to the day of the assassination. Where were you on February 14, 2005?
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.
TIME: Then you deny your participation in this terrorist act?
Absolutely. I was even surprised when I heard the news that Hariri was assassinated, and I stopped with a friend of mine in one of the coffee shops to watch it on TV. And the next day I went to my work as usual and people saw me. If I had participated in the assassination I would have taken more measures.
TIME: After the formation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, did you expect you would be among the four defendants?
For several years, Syria was accused of the assassination, and the whole international community encircled Syria on this basis. But after Syria’s cooperation with the international community, Hezbollah was accused of the assassination and they put our names as the killers.
TIME: Why don’t you hand yourself over to the Tribunal?
I will not turn myself in to a tribunal the main goal of which is to end Hezbollah and not … [to] reveal the [identity] of the real assassins. This is a politicized admitted to even by some of its members. If they are looking for the truth, let them search somewhere else than Lebanon. Let them go to neighboring countries and they will find the real suspects.
TIME: Do you mean Syria?
Of course not. They have to 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?
TIME: Do you think Hezbollah will deliver you to the Tribunal?
If I was guilty, Hezbollah would have turned me over from the first day to the so-called international justice. I said it once and will repeat it for the last time: I am innocent of all charges against me.
TIME: The Lebanese authorities are also looking for you.
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.
TIME: What do you think will happen to the Tribunal?
Since the day of its formation, the Tribunal has had no credibility. I am sure it will continue, but Lebanon will not execute any of its resolutions. The international community has to find a better way to end the Resistance [Hezbollah], Syria, and Iran.
TIME: What are your future plans?
I will continue living my ordinary life without giving any attention to the Tribunal and any of its resolutions.