Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Neil Macdonald Addresses Questions About CBC Hariri Exposé

I wrote to Neil Macdonald (author of the CBC report about the UN investigation into Rafiq al-Hariri’s murder) asking him if he would respond to some of the questions published on this blog earlier today about the timeline presented in his account of the investigation’s proceedings.

Mr. Macdonald had argued in his piece that “Brammertz could not be persuaded to authorize the one technique that those investigators wanted above all to deploy: telecommunications analysis,” and that “the UN commission in Lebanon did no telecom analysis at all for most of its first three years of existence.”

As some of our fearless readers have pointed out, the Mehlis report itself clearly indicates that the Commission was using telecoms data in its investigation to track Hariri’s killers. So why, I asked Mr. Macdonald, would Brammertz have had to authorize telecommunications analysis if the Commission was already using it in 2005? Or was that earlier work done under Mehlis a different kind of telecoms analysis from the stuff performed by Wissam Eid?

Mr. Macdonald responded to my query with the following note, which I quote with permission:

“The question we addressed in the documentary was when the commission began carrying out actual telecomms analysis of phone records. My sources — and they were there  — are absolutely firm. The commission did none until late 2007. The Lebanese police did. Capt. Eid was the first to discover the red network, and the first to identify the co-location phones. The commission under Mehlis was aware of the ISF’s early telecomms work. Brammertz referred to the commission’s collection of phone records (I refer to that in my piece; they obtained the entire 2005 phone database for Lebanon). But actual telecomms analysis by the commission itself, as I reported, was not authorized until late 2007, at which time FTS, the British firm, was brought in.

The floor is yours, armchair investigators…
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82 thoughts on “Neil Macdonald Addresses Questions About CBC Hariri Exposé

  1. I found this article by Franklin Lamb. I don’t know what to think of it. Your input could help

    Posted by aubsecularclub | November 23, 2010, 5:01 pm
  2. Copy and paste of my comment in the previous blog entry. So it’s not lost in the “old thread” black hole:

    One of the oldest “adages” in criminal science is that of motive.

    Humor me here, guys.

    The killing of Hariri and other Lebanese politicians can be interpreted to benefit a whole host of foreign and local parties, so there’s really no point arguing that. Whether it benefited Syria, HA, Israel, or the Americans. There are countless logical arguments that can be made there.

    The one that really stands out, to me, from this perspective, is the assassination of Wissam Eid.

    This is clearly NOT a political assassination. It is quite clear that Capt. Eid was assassinated because of what he found during the course of his investigations (ie the cellphone networks, etc.)

    With that in mind, it’s not much of a leap to say that the people to whom these cellphones belonged were clearly the folks responsible for Hariri’s assassination. After all, if these are just innocent civilians, who happened to be in the same area as Hariri, for no nefarious purposes, then why would they want Eid out of the picture? Why would they want to hide the fact that they were trailing Hariri?

    To me, this pretty much torpedoes the argument that Hezbollah was indeed trailing Hariri, but that it was for his own protection, or to catch some Israeli spies, or whatever other reason.
    I mean, you don’t go assassinating Capt. Eid for uncovering a network of patriots who were helping catch Israeli spies, do you?

    I know my theory here is no smoking gun. But in all the discussions I’ve read on this in the past few days, no one seems to have connected these 2 matters. Capt. Eid was no politician. His murder did not stand to advance any foreign or local party’s interests, start any wars, force Syrians to withdraw or anything like that. The ONLY explanation for his murder is that he was too close to the truth in the Hariri case! And by extension, this pretty much confirms that these networks he uncovered are indeed the assassins. The only remaining question is: Can one confirm with certainty who these cellphones belonged to? They’ve been “linked” with HA members. But how does such a “link” work. How do we know these phones were not operated by Syrian intelligence, Israeli intelligence, the CIA or whoever?

    THAT is the real question, imo.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 23, 2010, 5:23 pm
  3. I’m still looking for a link to the Hebrew original of Yossi Melman’s piece talking about possible Western/Israeli assistance in the telecoms field. The English rendition on the web-site is boring as G noted, the original (judging by the few quotes in the Al-Akhbar piece) probably less so, including the fact he doesn’t rule out a possible connection between help provided and those later arrested as spies for Israel.

    Posted by John | November 23, 2010, 6:13 pm
  4. QN,
    If you are to contact Mr. McDonald again I would appreciate it if you would consider asking him about two issues that I have mentioned earlier.

    (1) It appears that the CBC account does not differ materially from that of Der Speigel 18 months earlier. Does that mean that the Prosecutor is simply sitting on the case or to put it more bluntly what have they done to advance the case over the past 18 months?

    (2) What does Mr. McDonald think, based on his research, are the chances of getting a conviction based on telephone records that state who called whom but has no telephone transcripts. Can the accused , for example, claim to be male “groupies”? Does the fact that they were there prove anything about their intentions?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 23, 2010, 7:07 pm
  5. Gus,

    Did Der Speigel make the connection to WAH?
    Did Der Speigel have the detailed map of the circle of phones?
    I will be totally shocked if any court will convict anyone for owning a phone or tracking Hariri. I am certain if there are indictments they will have substantive other evidence. Otherwise HA would not be so “agitated”. Let’s wait and see. CBC report is just that; a documentary. We’ll see what the trials would look like.

    Posted by danny | November 23, 2010, 7:28 pm
  6. GK,

    I think that with out some additional evidence, getting a conviction will be difficult. I think the ace in the hole is Eid’s boss who is safe in Canada. I think he will be one of the more important witnesses in the case.

    By the way, I’d love to read the fatwa that made killing Eid kosher.

    Posted by AIG | November 23, 2010, 7:28 pm
  7. BV,
    I intende to respond to your post but I failed to do so. I have no issues with your logic. But at this stage it is not simply who did it but whether there is evidence to prosecute the suspects. Let me repeat for the fourth time that if al what they have is a telephone record then my lawyer pro bono advisers inform me that it would be highly unlikely to be able to rule in favour of this evidence which appears to be strong to the public but flimsy to a court of law. I do hope that the case rests on more substantial evidence.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 23, 2010, 7:29 pm
  8. http://pajamasmedia.com/michaeltotten/2010/11/23/hezbollah-threatens-to-take-over-lebanon/

    Well if you believe in Akhbar….The other shoe is about to drop.

    Posted by danny | November 23, 2010, 7:32 pm
  9. Danny,
    Der Speigel did not speak of WAH but they did speak of Eid and the telephones. I will reread Der Speigel for the seventh time later on tonight:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 23, 2010, 7:53 pm
  10. John.

    G provided the Haaretz Hebrew link on the earllier thread. Here’s the google translation of Melman’s speculation of a connection:

    “Note in this connection that in recent years also revealed several networks agents in Lebanon, the prosecution claimed were Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Israeli mission. Among others were arrested a few technicians and executives at Alpha Lebanese media. Interrogation revealed that they reported and provided information on almost every phone call that took place in Lebanon. It is quite possible there is a connection between all these things.”

    Posted by lally | November 23, 2010, 8:46 pm
  11. Thanks both of you.

    I see there’s also this (also google translation of what Melman wrote):

    But also hard to believe that the ability of a Lebanese police officer, however competent, and the work of an intensive investigation of British society led to deciphering the murder. Authority of the United Nations commissions of inquiry are relatively limited means; the UN has no data collection mechanisms or his own intelligence and therefore, as well as [meaning “for instance, similarly”] an investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, they are forced to use the intelligence organizations are willing to give them information. Hard to believe it did not happen in this investigation as well.

    Posted by John | November 23, 2010, 9:44 pm
  12. In the matter of the Hariri investigation , It looks like the more we read the less we know , I just hope it will end in peace once and for all,

    Posted by Norman | November 23, 2010, 11:46 pm
  13. I wasn’t really arguing whether my theory would stand up in a court of law. I said that that so far, this information proves nothing.

    But I’m taking my own leap (non-legally binding here) and tying the fact that Eid was murdered to the fact that it must mean what he uncovered was related to the Hariri assassination. And the question that comes to mind at that point is: If said cellphones can indeed be traced to HA members, then even if it can’t stand up in court, it’s a pretty clear indication as to who did it. This kind of logic should at the very least counter the inane arguments of “We were watching Hariri to protect him” or “We were trying to catch Israeli spies” which I have heard bandied about.

    Know what I mean? It may be no smoking gun, but the Eid murder, in my opinion, a central piece of this puzzle. More so than the political assassinations.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 23, 2010, 11:54 pm
  14. I’m afraid Danny has just jumped the shark by citing Michael Totten.

    Posted by sean | November 24, 2010, 1:32 am
  15. aubsecularclub @1 (first comment), your link doesn’t go to the article you intended but it’s close; here is the link, I think, and maybe you’ll get someone to comment now:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | November 24, 2010, 4:39 am
  16. Sean,
    Come now, Totten is celebrated in the White House. Surely that makes him credible, no?

    “I just hope it will end in peace”
    I don’t believe thats the intention here I’m afraid.

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 5:07 am
  17. HA has started the legal battle way ahead of the prosecutors. This tribunal is and will be highly publicized and the starting point is to plant reasonable doubt about the evidence the prosecution will present.

    If we consider the strategy of HA in dealing with the imminent release of the indictments, it is based on 2 main fronts:

    1- Discrediting the telecommunication evidence showing that there is reasonable doubt that it could have been tampered with. Seeing all the comments on this blog, they have somehow succeeded.

    2- Discrediting the witnesses. Every witness revealed, conveniently had a shady story behind him. They had limited success on this front because yes everyone has reasonable doubt with regards to the revealed witnesses but no one knows yet who are the other witnesses and what information or documents they posses.

    As expected from an organization like HA there is always plan B in case that point 2 above failed, then their strategy calls for derailing the STL from within by forcing the Lebanese government to stop the funding, withdraw the Lebanese judges and amend the terms of the agreement.

    If we consider HA strategy is based on knowledge of what’s in the report, then it implies that the prosecution have more than the telecommunication evidence (at least more credible witnesses).
    If they don’t have, then it’s going to be difficult to justify years of investigations and millions spent not to mention the turmoil and anxiety they have subjected the region to.

    Posted by IHTDA | November 24, 2010, 5:28 am
  18. Mo,

    I thought you revere al Akhbar lol. 😀

    Posted by danny | November 24, 2010, 8:01 am
  19. If there is no conviction and, as IHTDA does, people are going to blame the STL:
    “.. then it’s going to be difficult to justify years of investigations and millions spent not to mention the turmoil and anxiety they have subjected the region to.” And not blame these who bombed and killed the PM of Lebanon and Wissam Eid, and obviously numerous others, the war on the minds of people was won by the killers, who ever they are, and there is realy very little to say any more. As I see it, and there are libraries to back me, the turmoil and anxiety in this region started when the first ape lifted a stone to hit another ape, or some how even earlier. One should blame the killers, even if they are not known, and not these who are trying to do something about it will probavly fail.

    About Melman. As a very small cog in the messy ME, who can hardly operate a key-board, here is my penny worth. The word is optical fibers, and I am not sure about these either. Any word or even single letter or number that anybody, anytime, any place, anyway, any wave length, put on the air in the ME it become public property. It is intercepted by several organizations, some are known and some are not 24/365. It is kept practically for ever. When presently needed, or when statistically sampled according to all kinds of statistical programs, or other future needs, perhaps years later, it is fed into the most capable computers existing on earth. Human agents are parts of this system but only parts, it can work well practically without them. The rest are speculations by melman or any body on this blog.

    Posted by Rani | November 24, 2010, 8:07 am
  20. Elias,

    Here’s something I’d like to hear your opinion on, (as well as any of the other armchair investigators):
    How do the CBC allegations play into/contradict what we know about Hezbollah’s own telecommunications network? It’s hard to imagine that Hezbollah would have been dumb enough to use regular cellphones that can be tracked to knock off Hariri, given the possibility of Israeli infiltration. Do we know if they had their own network back in 2005? Would such a network also be traceable from the towers? I have heard (from a source in the telecom regulatory authority) that Hezbollah’s internal telecommunications network uses phone numbers with five digits, not 6. Do we know when Hezbollah started using their own network– has anyone alleged that this began only as a result of or after the Hariri assassination?
    Thanks, and very much enjoying the discussion here.

    Posted by EDB | November 24, 2010, 8:14 am
  21. QN,
    Lets for argments sake accept all this as fact, and fast forward to a world post a guilt verdict passed against HA. Since both pro and anti HA can agree that it is HA that will be accused, why are we bothering with the whole did they didnt they?

    This is a Chapter 7 Court. We really ought to be concentrating on how such a verdict is going to pan out. Is the UNSC really going to sanction Lebanon if they can’t deliver culprits? Will there be military intervention and by whom? Will UNIFIL be tasked with bringing in those found guilty?

    I can’t believe that those funding the STL will put in so much time and money and then let the result just lie.

    Anyone disagree?

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 8:26 am
  22. utp, I think that regardless of whether actions happen as a result of an indictment and in-absentia trial/conviction, there will be severe damage to the reputation of HA, first, of course, internationally (meaning from those countries, including Arab countries, that now support and even revere the party/movement) and then by an incremental fraction of the Lebanese, in the country and diaspora, who are able to look objectively at the evidence once presented and not swayed by the incredibly powerful propaganda (or, ok, let’s call it “truth-setting”) machinery of HA.

    HA of course already calculated all this, hence the PlanA/PlanB/PlanC in place for all contingencies and the strong pre-emptive claims of conspiracies and Israel accusations. Of course it is very effective. I only have to look to members of my family in Lebanon to see that. I will make you happy by telling you that I will allow that maybe even it’s all true and “Israel did it.” As GK keeps reminding us, let’s wait and see what the evidence is. So we wait. If I were a betting man (which I am not, having been ingrained with a phobia of gambling as a child by my parents pointing to the ruin of many a family known to us from gambling, ok, if I were a gambling man, I’ll clearly place my bet on the STL and the rather obvious scenario motivated by the “Pushed against the wall theory” of the 2006 post in SyriaComment.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | November 24, 2010, 9:03 am
  23. HP,
    Perhaps I should be clearer. I am not arguing innocence or guilt here since everyone on both sides of the divide think HA will be indicted and found guilty because of conspiracy or guilt or so on and so forth.

    Nor am I concerned about the net effects of the STL will be on HA’s “reputation”.

    What I am concerned with is the real consequences;
    Assuming there is a guilty verdict, the capture and punishment of those found guilty is the responsibility of the Lebanese govt. And since we can safely assume that the ISF and LAF will not be attempting to administer what the UNSC sees as justice, and since the creation of the STL was Chapter 7, what can or will the the UNSC do?

    Since we can all agree the indictments and guilty verdicts are a foregone conclusion, what then should concern us is not the net effects on HA as they can look after themselves but how the UNSC is going to Gazafy the Lebanese.

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 9:16 am
  24. Back against the wall or pants on the ground theory…Since HA/Syria’s mukhabarat controlled all of Beirut and they had their operatives tracking people on counter espionage missions(according to Nasrallah)on the day of the assassination…If Mossad was allegedly behind it; would they send their alleged spy in the same vicinity of Hariri murder? Now we would have the mossad operatives tracking the HA tracking team that was tracking the spy…Get it?

    Posted by danny | November 24, 2010, 9:42 am
  25. Hi all

    I’m going to be locked down working on my dissertation today, so I won’t get around to joining the conversation til probably tonight.

    Will dip in from time to time to make sure no one has solved the crime yet.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | November 24, 2010, 9:46 am
  26. A few artillery shells fall onto a South Korean island and suddenly everyone is worried NewZ


    Where were the aircraft carriers in this case:

    Click to access GazaOperation.pdf

    QN –

    When do you graduate? The real world is calling….

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 24, 2010, 10:09 am
  27. We definitely need a ST to investigate the stupidity and the amateurism the STL.

    Posted by Amir in Tel Aviv | November 24, 2010, 10:25 am
  28. UTP,
    I have been trying for months to get a clear and reliable answer from international lawyers about what are the implications of a chapter 7 in the case of the STL. There are two responses to my query: (1) UNSC will have the authority to use force to make sure that whatever the STL decides on is carried out and (2) Chapter 7 was used only to set up the STL since the Lebanese parliament did not vote on the issue. I tend to subscribe to the second interpretation.

    Lebanon will not have to experience any rise in tensions as a result of the STL unless we, the Lebanese,decide to do so. Can we for once act responsibly and stop blaming others for our problems. The relevant text of 1757 follows:

    ” Reaffirming its determination that this terrorist act and its implications constitute a threat to international peace and security,
    1. Decides, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, that:
    (a) The provisions of the annexed document, including its attachment, on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon shall enter into force on 10 June 2007, unless the Government of Lebanon has provided notification under Article19 (1) of the annexed document before that date;
    (b) If the Secretary-General reports that the Headquarters Agreement has not been concluded as envisioned under Article 8 of the annexed document, the location of the seat of the Tribunal shall be determined in consultation with the Government of Lebanon and be subject to the conclusion of a Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the State that hosts the Tribunal;
    (c) If the Secretary-General reports that contributions from the Government of Lebanon are not sufficient to bear the expenses described in Article 5 (b) of the annexed document, he may accept or use voluntary contributions from States to cover any shortfall;
    2. Notes that, pursuant to Article 19 (2) of the annexed document, the Special Tribunal shall commence functioning on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Government of Lebanon, taking into account the progress of the work of the International Independent Investigation Commission;
    3. Requests the Secretary-General, in coordination, when appropriate, with the Government of Lebanon, to undertake the steps and measures necessary to establish the Special Tribunal in a timely manner and to report to the Council within 90 days and thereafter periodically on the implementation of this resolution;
    4. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 24, 2010, 11:25 am
  29. EDB – I though the HA network was a closed, fixed line network? That would be almost impossible to tap about unless you had access to the cables, but it would also be pretty useless for communications when stalking someone on the move.

    I also don’t think it’s implausible that they used cell phones. The methods of analysis applied by the STL (or an intel agency on its behalf) weren’t necessarily known to them at the time, and whoever used these phones certainly took a lot of precautions to guard against interception — anonymously bought prepaid cards used only for a fixed period, no direct contacts between separate surveillance networks, etc. I’m sure they spoke in some clever code as well.

    Posted by aron | November 24, 2010, 11:29 am
  30. what if the information Capt. eid provided turned out to be effectively false … therefore the late request by the commission to investigate the phone records … and eid was investigated as a suspect … then eliminated?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 24, 2010, 11:49 am
  31. The Hezbollah communication network is fixed line. Unless you’re using satellite phones or have your own cell towers and frequencies, you can’t really have an independent cell network.

    Posted by sean | November 24, 2010, 12:04 pm
  32. GK,
    IRT the responses to your query: If it is (2) then that would be good.
    However, if it is (1) or a nation decides to unilateraly decide that the text allows it to inerpret 1757 as (1) (much as Bush and Blair did to Iraq) I wonder what “use of force” can include and if it can include UN sanctions? If it means force as military only, then fine, I don’t see any nation trying that right now; But i fear some semantic acrobatics will lead to some economic attacks.

    You are right, Lebanon will not have to experience any rise in tensions but I suspect that such a result would be quite contrary to the desired results of all this (if the STL were interested in stopping tension in Lebanon it could start by plugging these constant leaks!).

    No, I’m afraid I believe a storm is coming to Lebanon in 2011; I suspect it will be big but I also suspect it will be quite definitive.

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 12:12 pm
  33. Rani,
    if you understood from what I wrote is that “…going to blame the STL…And not blame these who bombed and killed the PM of Lebanon and Wissam Eid, and obviously numerous others”
    You are wrong.
    Let me put it more clearly, I believe in the rule of law and that all involved in the crime should be brought to justice and punished. Also I believe that the STL has more than the telecommunication evidence in it’s arsenal and leaks are not necessarily from the STL.

    Posted by IHTDA | November 24, 2010, 1:10 pm
  34. it doesn’t make much sense that eid was eliminated, along with nine other innocent lebanese in late 2007 for work he conducted in 2005 and then moved on to other jobs.

    the data he provided and which was clearly mentioned in Mehlis’s report was taken as solid in 2005. Ahbash people were imprisoned for it. however, it probably only had to be scrutinized in late 2007 for a reason.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 24, 2010, 1:18 pm
  35. who benefitted the most from Hariri’s assassination?

    Syria? the ones we all pointed the finger at? or iran?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 24, 2010, 1:50 pm
  36. To Bad Vilby

    Good analysis although you end with the wrong questions. You asked who did the phone belong to? It is easy to know using your own analysis (which I think is the best I read so far). STL says they belong to HA, HA denies and says Israel faked their identities. If the latter is true, then Israel couldn’t possibly have killed Eid since he was unknowingly helping her in linking HA to the phones, right? Without this revelation, Israel’s tempering with the phones would be futile. It is only useful if someone managed to link the phones to HA, which is what Eid did. So Israel couldn’t possibly have killed Eid; who killed Eid then? The real phone owners.

    Posted by Hitch | November 24, 2010, 2:15 pm
  37. Actually, the ones who benefited the most are HA and Iran.

    HA went from being somewhat of a Syrian errand boy to being the dominant force in Lebanon.
    Iran and Syria, while strategically allied, have always had 2 slightly divergent games in Lebanon that’s often been played out in the HA-Everybody else dynamics.

    With Iran making its move in Iraq post 2005 and becoming a much bigger player in the region as a consequence, it is not that difficult to see how making a move in Lebanon to essentially diminish the Syrian role and “cutting out the middleman” in a sense, would benefit Iran in a big way. Their guys (HA) are now essentially in control of the state.

    Did Israel benefit? Not really. On the surface, many might say “They got Syria out of Lebanon” but really, how does that benefit Israel? Syria kept a lid on the border with Israel. While Iran, on the other hand, has more “antagonistic” objectives vis-a-vis Israel. And we saw the results of Syria’s withdrawal within less than a year (2006).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 24, 2010, 2:21 pm
  38. Hitch,

    Exactly! That’s the point I was trying to make. I don’t know who the real phone owners are, but it is clear that the Eid assassination is the linchpin of this theory. In many of the often bandied theories out there, his murder doesn’t really “fit” or doesn’t really make sense.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 24, 2010, 2:54 pm
  39. QN, come out come out wherever you are, Hitch and BV solved it!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | November 24, 2010, 4:21 pm
  40. “HA went from being somewhat of a Syrian errand boy”

    Sorry BV, but thats gotta be one of the worst bit of understanding of Lebanese history you have ever written

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 4:41 pm
  41. Hariri was the biggest threat to the Hezb’x doctrine via those that financed it.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 24, 2010, 5:04 pm
  42. UTP/Mo,
    You seem to always object whenever anyone mentions the ties that bind. Do you honestly not see the very strong connection between the establishment, training, financing etc… of HA and the Tehran regime? Is it realistic to deny the theocratic underpinnings of all what HA is about or is that purely a PR game.
    I do not blame HA for being HA. I have , over the years, stated this view often: it is naive to expect HA to change the foundations upon which its ideology rests because that simply cannot be done. If HA is not to be a theocracy whose primary allegiance is to an Uma led by a faqih then it would stop being what it is. I would not want to change HA but I would hope to make its philosophy less attractive so that it will diminish its power. (to be continued, I have to logg off sorry)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 24, 2010, 5:21 pm
  43. it would hold more water if Ahmdin and co would stop using iraqi and lebanese shi’ites to fight their wars and ask their own compatriots to wage them on their behalf.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 24, 2010, 5:23 pm
  44. UTP,

    Maybe I used the wrong wording. But I stand by my point. Between the end of the war in 1990 and 2000, HA served a very specific purpose.
    Between 2000 and 2005, there is no denying that HA, as powerful as they were at the time, were a Syrian client of sorts. Syria held the reigns of everything in Lebanon.
    There is also no denying that since the Syrian withdrawal, HA and Iran have been on the ascendancy on the Lebanese scene.

    Call it what you will, but those are facts. HA and the Iranian agenda have taken the forefront in Lebanon since 2005, while Syria has been relegated to a secondary (although not at all minimal) actor.

    Before 2005, it was common knowledge that nothing in Lebanon happened without express knowledge and acquiescence from Syria. That is no longer the case. And HA certainly has taken a more leading role in the affairs of the country than it did pre-2005.

    “worst bit of understanding of Lebanese history”? Please.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 24, 2010, 5:25 pm
  45. BV,
    Between 1990 and 2000? It may have escaped you but until 1992 HA and Syria were mortal enemies and HA kicked their butt. Since you are the inquisitor prime of people making statements starting with “everyone can see” and “it is obvious” I presume you use the “there is no denying” and “those are the fact” with specific examples you just didn’t have time to write down?

    How did Tehran become involved in this? Not that I have denied the ties that bind in the past, just what many believe it is based on. I wasn’t even denying a relationship with Damascus, just BV’s description of it.

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 6:24 pm
  46. Mortal enemies????

    I suppose that’s why HA was the only militia that wasn’t disarmed after Taif….While the Syrian army took control of most of Lebanon and disarmed everyone else.

    We all know that Syria and Iran often had their little disagreements about HA. But “mortal enemies”??? Really? Hyperbole much?

    Really UTP. It’s no use having this discussion if you’re that deluded.

    Oh while we’re at it, living in denial must be nice. I suppose the LF and Israel were mortal enemies in 1982 as well. Right?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | November 24, 2010, 6:39 pm
  47. Michael Young breaks some news here:

    “Several things can be said about the matter. The first is that the detailed information in the documentary was not handed over recently to the journalist who broke the story, Neil Macdonald, therefore is not tied into recent political developments, as some are contending. This I know because I had heard that such documents were circulating at the beginning of this year (although I was unaware of their content). If one had to guess, the highly sensitive documents were passed on to Macdonald by someone unhappy with the lack of progress in the investigation. It’s best to keep an open mind on the agenda of a leaker, or leakers, but much of what Macdonald says about the shortcomings of the United Nations investigation between 2006 and 2008 under the stewardship of Serge Brammertz, like his criticism of Bellemare’s investigative and management skills, has long been echoed by others working with the investigation or familiar with its progress.”

    Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=121826#ixzz16F99lTMm
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

    Who are Michael Young’s informants? His caution that one must keep an open mind about their agendas is quite amusing and disingenuous. No doubt, Macdonald’s post in DC has made him privy to the purloined insider information from those who are long disgruntled by the directions not taken by the post-Mehlis investigation.

    Posted by lally | November 24, 2010, 7:17 pm
  48. BV,
    Before you go accusing anyone of hyperbole and delusion you should check your facts. Syria had the Shia under its thumb and had its proxy in Lebanon in civil war. It was called Amal. When Hizballah appeared they were a threat to both Amal’s dominion and Syria’s influence over the Shia.

    I wouldn’t describe the ferocious battles the Amal/Syrian attack on HA in Southern Beirut and the South a hyperbole nor the deadly battles afterward.

    But still, I’m sure you are going to provide all the “theres no denying” evidence any minute now

    Posted by usedtopost | November 24, 2010, 8:49 pm
  49. I visited Lebanon in 2005 just before March 14. I landed in the airport the evening March 8 wrapped up their show in Beirut. I stayed in Beirut for three weeks and was present in the gathering in Martyrs Square. During my visit, I mingled constantly with Hezbis. In my interaction with them, during the visit and later on through e-mail correspondences, I concluded that Hezb was an obvious suspect. I could not prove it at the time, but thanks to Eid who is indeed a hero of the truth.

    The Hezbis who come here and present their seemingly smart arguments should feel ashamed of themselves. If you cannot accept the obvious truth, please keep quite and save yourselves the embarrassment.

    Posted by anonymous | November 24, 2010, 11:41 pm
  50. An interesting comment by Jameel Al Sayed today in which he described the CBC report as an “intelligence report” implying that it was a false flag with regard to WAH.

    also found this info from the mehlis report, this particular information was provided to the commission not by Wissam Ead as the CBC claims but by Lebanese army intelligence under the command of Raymond Azar who was later imprisoned as a co conspirator in the Harriri murder along with along with Jameel Al Sayed the head of Lebanese general security apparatus based on false claims by the witness mentioned in the mehlis report.

    Detlev Mehlis

    Commissioner, UNIIIC

    Beirut, 19 October 2005

    121. The investigation shows that eight telephone numbers and 10 mobile telephones were used to organize surveillance on Mr. Hariri and to carry out the assassination. The lines were put into circulation on 4 January 2005 in the northern part of Lebanon, between Terbol and Menyeh. The lines were used on individual days to observe Mr. Hariri’s habits, mostly in the area of Beirut city.

    122. On 14 February 2005, six of the telephone were used in the area stretching from Parliament Square to the St. George Hotel and the axes of Zqaq el Blat and Al Bachoura. The calls occurred at 1100 hrs. They covered all routes linking the Parliament to Kuraytem Palace. The telephone located at the Parliament made four calls to the other telephones at 1253 hrs, the time when the Hariri motorcade left Nejmeh Square. The telephones have been inactive since the blast at 1256 hrs. The lines were only used to make calls with each other for the entire period from early January to 14 February 2005.


    Posted by Diab | November 25, 2010, 1:08 am
  51. usedtopost – going back to the point you were trying to make a few posts back, I wouldn’t be surprised if economic sanctions in Lebanon are indeed in the cards. Israel’s ‘timely’ withdrawal from Ghajar indicates to me that they are going to make a big push for the implementation of 1701.

    Once the indictments come down on Hizballah, they’re going to go to the UN and claim that they are in compliance with 1701, and Lebanon must begin disarming all militias. The military obviously will not be able to face Hizballah with force, at which point Israel will push for economic sanctions. The sanctions in Iran are proving to be a success – Reza Aslan reported today that the parliament began procedures to impeach Ahmadinejad, mainly due to his economic policy in light of the sanctions, and Khaminei had to step in and squash it.

    I think they’re going to take the same route in Lebanon, to further widen the Sunni-Shia chasm and foment economic unrest followed by blame pointed towards Hizballah. If there is no progress made towards internal disarmament, Israel will begin the military campaign they’ve been itching for since 2006, with their fresh “get out of jail free” card in hand, which they bought with a 90 day settlement freeze.

    Obviously, I’m in the camp that believes Israel stood to gain the most from Hariri’s assassination. That single event caused a Sunni-Shia rift in Lebanon that has completely depleted Hizballah’s popularity among Sunnis. Syria was pushed out and lost influence. Hizballah lost significant popularity, as well as the perception that they are “Lebanon’s” resistance, whereas they are now the militia of the Shia. This is a huge benefit to Israel and the US, and very similar to what we’ve seen in Iraq, and in the attempts to isolate Iran.

    From a purely geopolitical perspective, Israel has gained the most from Hariri’s assassination. I don’t see how it can be argued otherwise. I think the plan over the next year will play out the way I’ve outlined it, and that really doesn’t bode well for the short-term or long-term future in Lebanon.

    Posted by Mehdi2 | November 25, 2010, 2:09 am
  52. UTP/Mo @46, I don’t read a well-founded rebuttal to GK’s 43: “…it is naive to expect HA to change the foundations upon which its ideology rests because that simply cannot be done. If HA is not to be a theocracy whose primary allegiance is to an Uma led by a faqih then it would stop being what it is.”
    I am of the same opinion as GK on that one. Maybe, as you have stated earlier, a direct contact with HA – today’s HA – would persuade one of the contrary but intellectually (and that is what leads HA, a powerful and extremely smart and erudite leadership) I cannot see how this is possible and would interpret it as part of the tactic, of a means to an end.
    How is it even possible for HA – specifically their leadership – to renounce the dream of Wilayat-al-Faqih without renouncing the core foundation of their faith for which they would sacrifice themselves and their faithful?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | November 25, 2010, 2:37 am
  53. Mehdi2,
    Your argument is where I think we are heading and I would especially focus on the sanctions being used to forment anti-Hizballah propoganda in Lebanon.

    Again, there is no rebuttal because he is essentially right. What you and GK cannot understand is that the philosophy is that a vast majority of what underpins HA, namely the Shia constituency, are no more fans of the Wilyat than you are (Even HA’s no2 Naim Qassem is rumoured to have ruled himself out of being a leader because he does not fully subscribe). So to me it is mostly a moot point and although I can understand your fears there is only so many times I can keep repeating the same argument.

    And the last time we had this discussion you never answered my question, which has become more pertinent since you have since told me of your trips to the Dahyieh.So:

    If HA want to impose such a system, even on their own people, why have they not done so in their own areas, which they supposedly run as mini-states? You have been there, did you get the feeling you were in little Tehran? Did you see religious police making sure every woman was dressed as they saw fit?

    So you flew in, saw “the obvious truth” and left? Thats got me convinced so you can leave now, happy in the knowledge that I now recite Labbaik Ya Samir Geagea every night.

    Posted by usedtopost | November 25, 2010, 5:44 am
  54. Resolution 75 of the International Telecommunications Union has said Lebanon’s Telecommunications infrastructure has been and continues to be subject to piracy, interference as well as obstruction by Israel in both the Lebanese land and cellular networks. Israel’s interception, manipulation, and ghosting of records and transmissions have been a textbook example of cyberwarfare. In addition to tainted witnesses, the STL has tainted evidence.

    Posted by RavenamongCrows | November 25, 2010, 6:36 am
  55. UsedToPost #55,

    Nice try. So I am the one who should feel ashamed for betraying the imam(قدس الله سره,) and not those who just argue for the sake of argument. How about if you reflect on yourself after watching this clip courtesy of Hezbis (for the link sent over to me by one of them)?

    If you have trouble comprehending Iraqi accent, expand the arrow underneath for the complete listing.

    Posted by anonymous | November 25, 2010, 9:18 am
  56. Latest Update…

    The STL has issued the indictments against 6 HA members, 1 Syrian ex-mokhabarat and 1 Israeli ex-mosad. In addition, the STL issued 4 indictments against false witnesses (plus 72 spare ones). The evidence is overwhelming and includes phone records, intercepted calls, CCTV footage from reliable sources as well as witnesses who are current high ranking Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian and Israeli officials. The evidence was verified by a panel of nuns, sheikhs as well as the civil community.

    HA announced that they will cut the hands of the hizb implicated members because they have acted against the muqawama and then hand them (the hands not the hizbs members!) over to the STL for proper punishment. Moreover, they have declared that they will, with immediate effect, surrender all the weapons in their possession to the Lebanese army (detailed one page comprehensive list of the weapons and their serial numbers has been posted on their website and includes 7 hand guns, 24 AK47 and many many bullets)

    Syria announced that the ex-mokhabarat will be tried and hanged in Damascus as promised earlier. His written confession and body will then be handed to the STL as evidence. Update: The ex-mukhabarat was found dead, presumably committed suicide by a remotely detonated bomb.

    Israel declined to comment, however, the implicated ex-mosad guy was miraculously found on board of a cargo plane that landed in the Netherlands with his hands cuffed and a signed confession was found in his pocket. He remains unconscious but stable; doctors think that he has suffered brain damage that affected his long term memory and cannot remember anything more than a month back.

    Saad Al Hariri, apologized on a televised speech and declared that he will impose a 1 year house(s)/yacht arrest on one of his advisers. The name will be announced after screening the applicants (this might take few weeks due to the large number of volunteers).

    Sameer Geagea had to comment. He praised Saniora

    Aoun declared that he will not accept the findings of the STL unless he was given the right to name at least 37 of the 72 spare indictments. Update: an agreement was reached for 25 (1/3 +1)

    On the Lebanese internal front, the president called for an emergency meeting where all parties met, wept and asked forgiveness from the Lebanese public. They all submitted their resignations from their posts. The public went to the streets in anger from all walks of life, sects and religions. The 12 million strong angry crowd (independently verified) marched towards Down Town and raised only the Lebanese flag (or their interpretations of it, 27 interpretations were counted) demanding the withdrawal of the resignation of their leaders. After weeks of tough negotiations, the angry crowd convinced the leaders to withdraw their resignations and come back to their duties serving the public as they used to.

    AND the Lebanese lived happily ever after. The END…

    Oh, not to forget that the UN has unanimously elected Lebanon as a permanent member with 2 veto powers on the UNSC for it’s exemplary performance and it’s leaders selflessness.

    Bets anyone? 🙂

    Posted by IHTDA | November 25, 2010, 10:42 am
  57. Another sensational article; this time on Foreign Policy Journal by Franklin Lamb

    Posted by IHTDA | November 25, 2010, 12:28 pm
  58. Maybe this case needs Sherlock Holmes, or better yet inspector Clouseau. So many twists & turns it is very confusing.

    Me thinks it’s best to wait and see the final STL announcement and look at their evidence before making any judgement.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | November 25, 2010, 12:59 pm
  59. IHTDA #59
    Foreign Policy Journal is an online publication devoted to sensationalism in its coverage. It is not to be mistaken for Foreign Policy magazine. Franklin Lamb has been rehashing these same allegations for a long time. Actually half of this article ids devoted to what HA has in store if someone dares indict any of its members.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 25, 2010, 1:26 pm
  60. UTP #55,
    I am very well aware that many Shia all over the world still believe in the Marjaieah of Najjaf anot Qom. I would not be surprised to learn that a few in HA ‘s leadership have some reservations against the Wilayat Al Faqieh but I don’t think that any of them would dare speak against it openly.(We all know what happened to Montazzeri).
    But that is not why I do not agree with HA. The Wilayat Al Faqieh is just a manifestation of a more basic and fundamental difference that makes it impossible for me to support such a group. HA is a theocracy whther it is based on Wilayat Al Faqieh or not. I cannot and will not lend support to any theocratically based group irrespective of the religion that it espouses. HA cannot , even if they want to, be democratic in the same way that no theocracy can ever be compatible with personal freedom and accept the other. Religious belief of all kinds is to be a personal matter. It is up to the individual to choose any of the creation stories that makes sense. Personally I reject all the monotheistic stories as being out of touch and a reflection of hubris and arrogance on the part of the homosapiens. We are the ones that have created god in our image in order to justify our pillage.
    My point Mo, is that I am as strongly opposed to Moslem Brotherhood, Salafis groups, LF …I do not discriminate in my opposition to those that insist to build their group and personal identity on organized religious principles.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 25, 2010, 1:50 pm
  61. … or corporations.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 25, 2010, 2:04 pm
  62. To add to what GK said, Franklin Lamb lacks credibility as he’s a serial conspiracy theorist. In 2007 he was claiming that the objective behind the destruction of Nahr el-Bared was to clear the way for a US air base north of Tripoli. It was an implausible claim at the time, even though he had all manner of alleged evidence for it. What happened to that air base? I admire his commitment to the Palestinian cause, but his world-view is marred by a conviction that most events fit into a US-Israeli plot.

    Posted by Jonathan | November 25, 2010, 2:05 pm
  63. How many nations have put their trust in God on their national currency ?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 25, 2010, 2:20 pm
  64. the dollar is pegged to it.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 25, 2010, 2:22 pm
  65. How dare you question the dollar, Gus ?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 25, 2010, 2:32 pm
  66. PID,
    Probably the value of the dollar is inversely proportional to the strength of belief in religious dogma. A strong currency demands a nation of heathens 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | November 25, 2010, 2:57 pm
  67. I guess that explains the dollar’s weakness.

    Posted by lally | November 25, 2010, 4:29 pm
  68. History is folding before us. From the last few days it is clear that the nation that gained most from Hariri murder is Tuekey. Here, as result of this murder, they are back in Lebanon that they left with broken heart in 1917. What a lose was that to Lebanon, some Lebanese people are still crying with sorrow. As we all know the Turks, by their very nature, are only interested in helping the opressed, as they did in lately in Cyprus and daily in Kurdistan and also the Armenians in Lebanon can tell tales about traditional Turkish help.
    So many nations, big and small, are right now helping Lebanon. Here was the letter from the President of the USA, Iran is doing its best and a little bit more, Great leaders from the Arab/Persian golf are bringing their help, Syria is always there, France, as always, is good with sweet talk. Even Israel is giving Grajar back, soon. The UN in the south is helping every day. So much good will and help, poor Lebanon.

    Posted by Rani | November 25, 2010, 5:07 pm
  69. Hey Rani,

    Lebanon has friends in high places, lol, and why not? Turkey is trying to turn east when the western gate was being obstructed from their perspective. Nothing wrong with this. It is the Turk’s choice after all.

    Turkey is important from many geopolitical perspectives, as simple as that.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | November 25, 2010, 6:14 pm
  70. There is a couple of things I cannot understand after re-reading the original Mehlis report and the subsequent reports.

    A number of mobile phones – the famous “red network” – were quickly identified to be directly involved in the murder of Hariri. What I find impossible to comprehend is that they already knew back then where, when and by whom the prepaid cards used in these phones were bought. The suspect, a guy called Raed Fakhreddin, was arrested and interrogated in September 2005 but “he denied any knowledge of the use of six of the lines in connection with the Hariri assassination”.

    End of story.

    Raed Fakhreddin never reappears in any of the subsequent 10 IIC reports.

    An islamist named Faisal Akbar made a very detailed, coherent and – on the surface – convincing confession to the ISF of his involvement with the assassination of Hariri. He then retracted the whole thing claiming he had been tortured. Which of course may be true. I don’t know much about the Modus Operandi of the Lebanese police.

    But if that really was true, I have a question: Why wasn’t Raed Fakhreddin tortured in the same way? Surely this guy must know some important facts in this sad story.

    My impression is that many people in Lebanon desperately don’t want to know who killed Hariri.

    Posted by Göran | November 25, 2010, 6:34 pm
  71. UTP/Mo @55, a belated reply to your question (Thanksgiving duties obliged earlier):
    The answer is no, nothing uncomfortable in the trips to Dahiey. If you are right about there being no real agenda (albeit long term), then my sister is 100% right (in supporting FPM/HA).
    The smarts and words of SHN still bother me, but willing to wait and see.


    Posted by Honest Patriot | November 25, 2010, 9:31 pm
  72. HP.

    SHN is a rare individual and yes, brilliant, but he also displays a flexibility that tempers dogmatism.

    Of all places, I ran across this remarkably straightforward piece about SHN (from his father’s perspective) in Ynet news. The original source is an interview in IRNA:

    “‘He was never greedy’
    Abu-Hassan recounted his son’s childhood. “He was a good boy from the beginning. He was never greedy,” he said. “He loved to play soccer and learn about literature and religion.”

    The proud father added that even back then, Nasrallah had been outstandingly articulate. “He could learn 100 pages by heart,” he said. “Wherever he spoke people were surprised at how a 14-year old boy could speak thus before village elders and religious officials.”

    Hassan Nasrallah will turn 50 next month, and the report presents him as a simple and devout Lebanese leader.

    “I wanted him to be an engineer or a lawyer,” said Abu-Hassan, who claimed he had opposed his son’s religious studies in Iraq. Though Nasrallah’s studies there were cut short, leaving him without the authority to make religious rulings, he often inserts quotes from Islamic texts into his speeches.

    According to the father, Nasrallah married immediately upon returning to Lebanon, at age 19. He said the marriage had surprised him, because his son had not yet made enough money to support a family. However the recently deceased Sheikh Hassan Fadlallah, a Shiite cleric who was later to become Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, convinced him to be supportive.

    “Fadlallah told me, don’t worry, because though the boy is only 19 he is as smart as a 35-year old and can run an entire nation,” Abu-Hassan boasted.

    Posted by lally | November 25, 2010, 10:02 pm
  73. the end game: a Shi’ite Presidency ?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 26, 2010, 2:02 am
  74. It is not enough for Macdonald to say that ‘Mehlis was aware of the ISF’s early telecomms work’. Macdonald’s report, especially the video, emphatically makes the claim that the commission only identified the Red team late in Brammertz’s tenure, and only after much prodding.

    However, the commission’s reports are clear that the Red team was identified at the initial stages of the investigation and that signal analysis was a key technique used by the commission.

    This contradiction with the documented historical record undercuts the report’s credibility. It is obviously trying to sell you something. And what I think what it is selling is the linkage between the Red team and HA.

    The Red team stands out in any signal analysis. It is a closed network, located at the scene of the crime, and ceased to exist immediately after the assassination. By focusing on the slam dunk part of the Eid’s analysis, we are asked to adopt the further linkage of the Red Team to HA.

    What is that linkage? Did someone on the Yellow team call the Hospital and then someone at the Hospital call a government issued HA phone line?

    How about if an Israeli agent calls someone at AUH, and then someone at AUH calls AUB? Can I then claim the Dean of AUB is an Israeli spy?

    And this whole ‘mathematical genius’ spin. It just sounds like a way to cater to the Leb ego so as to distract our suspicions. Tell me Eid used some special software. Tell me he set up a database. Hell, tell me wrote a computer algorithm to do signal analysis. I will believe you. But a super-mathematical genius who could ‘intuit mathematical patterns’? No. Just… no.

    I speculate that the attack on Wissam Hassan is to undermine the ISF’s work on Israeli spies and Israel’s penetration of the Lebanese telecom network. At Nahass’s conference this week, Wissam Hassan was specifically named as helping out in the investigation of Israel compromising HA phone lines. By labelling him an HA accomplice, the whole Israel angle can be explained away.

    The attack on Belmarre and Brammertz are interesting. Whoever fed Macdonald his information must have felt the indictments are not going to come out, or will fail to name HA members. Thus the report serves to indict HA in the media, regardless of the path the STL takes. The whole ‘Getting Away with Murder’ angle is that HA did it, we know they did it, but here’s why the STL won’t indict them. Is someone nervous?

    I think the only factual we get out of the whole report was from Belmarre’s press release in which he stated he is working on the draft of the indictment. So we know that’s coming sooner than later.

    Posted by RedLeb | November 26, 2010, 4:37 am
  75. LOL, and just because things weren’t interesting enough, along comes the discovery that the telecoms networks were being “protected” by two companies – RSA and Checkpoint. And the founders of both companies come from……..Can you guess?

    Posted by usedtopost | November 26, 2010, 5:11 am
  76. TO Ras Beirut 71
    Few proverbs
    Too many cooks equal a stinking soup
    Too many Doctors equal a funeral
    When the ox is down the whole village rush with knifes.
    Please God save me from my friends, I my self will take care of my enemies.

    Posted by Rani | November 26, 2010, 6:33 am
  77. This article caught my attention, specifically the last paragraph entitled “Vicious Circle”. It is really the “Pushed against the wall” theory in Walid Jumblat own words. Since I heard of this theory for the first time on this blog, i thought i will post this here as well.


    Posted by Caustic | November 26, 2010, 8:46 am
  78. From the transcript of a press conference, posted last Tuesday on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, Lieberman confirms Israel involvement in the Hariri investigation:

    GQ: I would like to address the same question to both Mr. Frattini and Mr. Liberman. Lebanon is a country which gives growing concern because of the internal struggle between Hizbullah and the government of Mr. Hariri. Which steps would you like to see in order to strengthen the moderates and to stabilize the country?

    “FM Liberman: Our first step was, as you see, our efforts to resolve this problem of Ghajar village. And of course we think that our position and our cooperation with the international community regarding the Hariri investigation was really very open and with all sincerity.”

    Naturally there are no details.

    But as AlAkhbar points out today this is the first Israeli confirmation of involvement in the investigation, confirming what was suggested a couple of days ago in Haaretz.

    Posted by John | November 26, 2010, 11:29 am
  79. Ad-Diyar newspaper on Friday quoted knowledgeable sources as saying that the Lebanese foreign ministry had received word through its embassy in the Netherlands that the indictment will be issued on Thursday, December 2.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | November 26, 2010, 12:10 pm


  1. Pingback: Discrepancies and Holes In the CBC Report | The Beirut Spring, a Lebanese Blog - November 24, 2010

  2. Pingback: Hariri Tribunal Reports Tell a Different Story than CBC Account « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - November 26, 2010

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