Hezbollah denies any links to Slim’s murder and Beirut port explosion

File photo of Hezbollah flag. :Several countries designated Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based Shiite group, as a “terrorist” organization.The designation covers the entirety of the group, both the political and military wings . Australia was the most recent country to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
A multi-faith memorial service for Lebanese activist Lokman Slim, who was killed last week, triggered a row Thursday after a Shiite cleric was attacked on social media for taking part in it . The pictures shows friends of the fearless Hezbollah critic with placards that read ” Zero fear ”

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any links between the group and the killing of anti Hezbollah researcher and activist Lokman Slim. 

“Any incident that happens in your area then you are accused until the opposite is proven? Is this something that is practiced in the whole wide world? Where else is this logic present?” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. 

Activist Lokman Slim was shot and found dead in his car in south Lebanon earlier in February, marking the first killing of a high-profile activist in years.

He was a critic of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group. His sister has suggested he was murdered because of those views.

Hezbollah has previously condemned the killing. 

A filmmaker and publisher, Slim had spoken out against what he called Hezbollah’s intimidation tactics and attempts to monopolise Lebanese politics.

Beirut Port explosion

Beirut Port area after the explosion of hundreds of tons of Ammonium Nitrate. 200 killed , some still missing , 6500 Injured . 2755 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were stored there for nearly 7 years. There were unconfirmed reports that Hezbollah shipped out hundreds tons of the product to UK, Germany , Cyprus , Syria and several areas of Lebanon . Experts believe that if the whole 2755 tons exploded the whole of Beirut would have been leveled . FBI which helped Lebanon in the investigation said about 500 tons only exploded . Former justice minister and retired Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi revealed on Dec . 17 that Iran had sent to Hezbollah the ammonium nitrate shipment that eventually caused the August 4 catastrophic explosion

Nasrallah was also critical on Tuesday about blame pointed at the group for involvement in the Aug. 4 Beirut blast that killed 200 people. 

“Hezbollah is guilty until proven otherwise – what kind of a rule is that? …Beirut port – you, Hezbollah, blew up Beirut port until the truth about the explosion is revealed,” he said. 

The judicial investigation into the blast is still under way in Lebanon with judge Fadi Sawan having charged caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, whose cabinet quit after the blast, and three former ministers with negligence. 

Sawan is due to interrogate one of the three former ministers, Youssef Finianos, a Hezbollah ally sanctioned by the United States for his links to the group that Washington considers a terrorist organisation. 

“Our information says that the technical investigation ended and the army sent it to the judge…we asked that day the army and internal security to reveal the results of that investigation ….we are repeating our call for this and we insist on it.” 

The explosion, one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history, added further strains to a country struggling with its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

It was caused by a massive quantity of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely for years.

It was brought to Lebanon at the time when the Syrian regime started handing over its chemical weapons to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

“The Obama administration forced the Syrian regime to hand over its chemical weapons in October 2013. About a month later … the ship Rhosus carrying the ammonium nitrate arrived at the Beirut Port,” Lokman Slim who linked Hezbollah to ammonium nitrate shipment stated in one of his reports . He believed that the timing was significant: In early 2014, the momentum of barrel bomb attacks in Syria rose significantly, especially those that contained ammonium nitrate.

2755 Tons were brought to Lebanon from Georgia by the ship Rhosus, while only about 500 tons exploded according to the FBI . The bulk of the product was reportedly shipped by Hezbollah to Syria to be used in the barrel bombs , while some of the product was shipped to Hezbollah cells in Germany, UK , Cyprus and south Lebanon for use in bombs .

Reuters/ Agencies