Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A Primer

The STL is the big story again, and everyone is hungry for more information. Who are the four men that the Tribunal has indicted? Will the prosecutor’s office stop here or does it have evidence connecting the suspects with higher-ups within Hizbullah or the Syrian regime, as has been previously claimed? What else is in the indictment by way of material and circumstantial evidence?

In all likelihood, there will be another waiting period before we start to get the answers to these questions. The good news, however, is that a great deal of information about the case, the evidence, the suspects, and the crime is contained in a wealth of previous reports and leaked information that is freely available on the Internet, much of which we’ve discussed at length here at QifaNabki.com over the past few years.

For those who would like to brush up on their STL knowledge and dig around for information on the identities of the suspects, I’ve assembled a list of relevant documents and posts that should keep you busy. See below.


2005: Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission to Lebanon (.pdf): This document was prepared by Peter Fitzgerald, an Irish police commissioner tasked by the UN to visit Lebanon just after the Hariri assassination. It provides a useful introduction to the political context and background of the crime, as well as the response of the Lebanese and Syrian security forces immediately following the explosion.

2005-08: Reports of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission: The UN commission, led by three different investigators (Detlev Mehlis, Serge Brammertz, and Daniel Bellemare) produced 11 detailed reports about the crime over the course of three years. You can find all the reports at the link above. The first one, the infamous “Mehlis Report“, cause d a huge stir when it identified key witnesses who blamed top Syrian and Lebanese politicians and security officials for being involved in the crime.

August 10, 2008: The Hariri Investigation and the Politics of Perception: An essay by Gary Gambill that explores the credibility problems of the Special Tribunal and its reliance on unreliable witness testimony.

April 30, 2009: Tribunal Releases the Four Generals: Detlev Mehlis, the first UN investigator, famously had four top Lebanese generals put into custody for their alleged involvement with the Hariri crime. Nearly four years later, they were released by Daniel Bellemare for lack of evidence. It was a big blow to the confidence of the March 14th movement, one from which it never quite recovered.

May 23, 2009: The Der Spiegel Leak: Widely dismissed as politically expedient nonsense at the time (including by yours truly), this story provided the first major indication that members of Hizbullah and not the Syrian regime were the primary suspects in the Hariri case. Note that two of the indictees who are connected with Hizbullah were mentioned by the Der Spiegel article three years ago: (al-Hajj) Salim Ayyash and Mustafa Badreddine.

August 8, 2010: Hizbullah Presents Its Case that Israel Killed Hariri: In an epic news conference, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah built a fascinating case detailing Israel’s involvement in the murder, based on intercepted Israeli drone footage, witness testimony, etc. It had to be seen to be believed; this wasn’t your daddy’s conspiracy theory.

September 6, 2010: Saad Hariri Exonerates Syria: After five years of blaming the crime on Syria, the son of Rafik Hariri publicly accepted that he and his movement had been mistaken for doing so. Nobody believed he was sincere.

November 21, 2010: The CBC Leak: Following the same basic thread of the Der Spiegel story of 2009, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation published an explosive story about the Hariri investigation, with details about the evidence it had turned up that tied Hizbullah members to the crime.

November 23-26, 2010: Qifa Nabki & Friends Dispute the Logic of the CBC Story: Several astute readers of this blog point out discrepancies in the logic of the CBC story. When this is brought to the attention of its author, Neil Macdonald, he offers this reply. Upon further investigation, I turn up even more evidence that not all is as it seems…

January, 2011: The Witnesses Come Out of the Woodwork: Lebanese TV station al-Jadid (or New TV) somehow gets its hands on a bunch of audio recordings of conversations held between Saad Hariri, STL officials, and the “false witness” Zuhayr Siddiq. This is tremendously embarrassing for the March 14 camp, and aids Hizbullah’s case that the whole investigation is a scam. (See here as well.)

January 18, 2011: The STL: Prerequisites for Injustice?: Dr. Omar Nashabe, a PhD in Criminal Justice and an editor at Al-Akhbar newspaper presents a lecture at the LSE about the problems of legitimacy, credibility, and procedure plaguing the court.

June 30, 2011: STL Indicts 4 Suspects for Hariri Murder: Six years after the crime, four individuals (two of whom we know are connected to Hizbullah) are indicted.

If you have links to other important stories about the STL, please post them in the comment section and I may add them to this list.
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13 thoughts on “The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A Primer

  1. This piece by jurist Chibli Mallat from December 2010 might be useful

    Posted by sean | June 30, 2011, 12:02 pm
  2. October, even.

    Posted by sean | June 30, 2011, 12:03 pm
  3. Sean…

    Thanks for the link… hadn’t seen it before.

    This must be the best writing and summary I have seen of events presented to date!

    Posted by Gabriel | June 30, 2011, 12:12 pm
  4. There is no substitute to the official STL site or comprehensive details regarding the process and how it works and all the official documents.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 30, 2011, 12:23 pm
  5. STL, UNIIIC and the Razzmatazz of CIA/MOSSAD in Full Swing….LOL 🙂

    What a circus!!!


    Posted by HK | June 30, 2011, 12:59 pm
  6. Looks like the indictments of the 4 HA members is not the whole package.
    The STL is also sending people to Syria to deliver warrants for various Syrian nationals. Interesting (but not surprising).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 30, 2011, 1:14 pm
  7. Hezbollah couldn’t possibly murder innocent People NewZ

    STL Media Advisory – What follows a confirmed indictment?
    A confirmed indictment

    The confirmation of an indictment does not mean that the person(s) named in the indictment is/are guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. It simply confirms that the case put forward by the Prosecutor has met the burden of proof required at this stage of the process – prima facie evidence. In simple terms this means that if this evidence were presented uncontested at the trial, it would lead to a conviction.

    The accused is innocent until proven guilty.


    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 30, 2011, 1:32 pm
  8. I think the French journalist Georges Malbrunot and not DER SPIEGEL, who was the first to publish in 2007, that members of Hizbullah were suspects in the case.
    L’ombre du Hezbollah sur l’assassinat de Hariri

    Posted by Badr | June 30, 2011, 2:06 pm
  9. BV #6,
    I am glad that it is so. I have already speculated on when the Syrian shoe will drop on the previous thread. It would not make any sense otherwise. High ranking Syrian officials either instigated or approved the operation, the 4 already indicted planned it and then there are the grunts/foot soldiers who did the work. The eventual list will be long.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 30, 2011, 2:30 pm
  10. Yup. My feelings as well…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 30, 2011, 2:40 pm
  11. I don’t know why everyone seems to neglect the fact that Wissam Al Hasan gave a false alibi the day that Hariri was murdered, and that there were calls between him and one of the alleged bombers. This information is public and available online, and it states that the STO didn’t investigate with him on the basis that 1. Saad Hariri said he was a close family friend, and 2. The STL didn’t want to damage relations with the ISF.

    Posted by Hasan | January 16, 2014, 9:24 am
  12. I don’t think anyone neglects that information, Hasan. It’s been a constant topic of discussion since the beginning. Wissam al-Hasan may well have known of the plot. I would wager he did.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 16, 2014, 10:07 am

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