Hezbollah, Lebanon

Co-Locating with PMPs: An Assessment of the STL Indictment

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has unsealed its indictment of Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, and Assad Sabra for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. You can download a copy of the indictment here (PDF, 12.9 megabytes).

I’ve read the document once through and there’s a great deal to mull over, but here are some preliminary thoughts.

The Evidence

The case against the four men accused of plotting and carrying out the Hariri murder rests almost entirely on telecommunications analysis. As was leaked by a Lebanese security official as early as 2006, the investigation discovered the cell phone networks allegedly used to surveil Hariri and coordinate his assassination.

The central methodological tool of the investigation is “co-location”, which determines on the basis of cell-tower data when and where certain cell phones were used to call each other and other off-network phones. Here’s a basic illustration of the principle:

  1. Phones A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H are activated together on the same day, several weeks before the crime. They only ever make calls to each other, and those calls are made from locations in the vicinity of Hariri’s convoy or along his various routes. In the two hours before the assassination, 33 calls were made between these phones with the last one coming just five minutes before the bomb went off. This is the red network, carried by the hit squad.
  2. When the hit squad members need to communicate with people who are not part of the immediate assassination team, they use other phones.  Cell-tower data shows that these phones are always active in the same locations and at the same times as the red network phones, and they were used to do things like purchasing the vehicle used to carry the bomb.
  3. The hit squad also have their own personal mobile phones (PMP’s) which they use to contact family members and friends, and are ultimately used by the investigation team to determine the identities of their owners.  (Note to self: beware of co-locating with PMPs. Always a bad idea.)

Using this method, the investigation team was able to put together a very detailed chronology for the operation build-up and execution, as well as its aftermath (when the Abu Adass claim of responsibility was made).

Question Marks

The first question that comes to mind is: is this it? After nearly six years of investigation, does the case truly rest solely on telecommunications data? What about witness testimony? Forensics? DNA analysis? Magnifying glasses and trench coats?

Secondly, if signals intelligence does comprise the bulk of it, then what did the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) do between 2006 and 2010? The first Mehlis report had already identified the hit squad’s cell phone network in late 2005,  and the 2006 article by Georges Malbrunot in Le Figaro revealed that the investigation had used cell phone data to discover new evidence “leading to Hezbollah”. I understand that piecing all of this together must have been a complicated task, but surely it would not have taken five years to do so.

(Let me reiterate that I don’t buy Neil Macdonald’s claim that the UNIIIC only began analyzing telecoms data in late 2007, which was when they supposedly discovered the hit team. As I’ve previously shown, that simply does not add up.)

The last big question is whether the STL has other indictments up its sleeve. Did Badreddine or Ayyash ever communicate with off-network phones tied to political figures? The CBC report claimed to produce documents from the investigation showing networks connected to Hezbollah political figures, but the indictment makes no mention of these.

As I said, there will be much more to comment on the next few days as Lebanon’s professional and amateur pundits pore over the indictment. In the meantime, the floor is open for thoughts and critiques.

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Discussion

233 thoughts on “Co-Locating with PMPs: An Assessment of the STL Indictment

  1. I never got where and how the connection between the call analysis and the four accused is made.

    Also it somewhere says something to the effect that they would be able to pull it off because they’ve been terrorists in the past. Has a strange sound to it for a legal “indictment.”

    Posted by Odno | August 17, 2011, 11:49 am
  2. As a speculative answer to the question about why the indictment relies so heavily on mobile-phone anlalysis I suggest that this might have something to do with how the UNIIIC and the STL perceived their role. It seems to me that in the Mehlis phase there was the intention to unravel the whole thing and find evidence to prove conspiracy to murder; Brammertz hinted at a narrower scope in his reports when he asked questions about what crimes the commission should be investigating; we now have an indictment that focuses on a group of people accused of active involvement in the murders. Thus far the motive for the assassination and the political forces and individuals that might be implicated in authorising and financing it are absent from the proceedings. Possibly this is because neither the UNIIIC nor the STL has been able to build a sufficiently strong case to support what I assume to be strong suspicions.

    Posted by EIU | August 17, 2011, 12:05 pm
  3. I may have missed it, but what could have possessed Abu Addas to make a video of a false claim. And if in fact it was not him who self-detonated, does he live to tell the tale? Or was he too killed subsequently?

    Juicy.

    I have just given the report a cursory read, so I may have missed answers to those questions if they were listed.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 17, 2011, 12:09 pm
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/robert-fisk-this-slaughter-will-end-only-when-words-of-condemnation-are-acted-on-2334157.html

    I went to look for answers from Fisk. Instead I came up with this. Apparently he is now calling on the West to invade Syria.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 17, 2011, 12:14 pm
  5. This indictment doesn’t really fulfill my need to proclaim such accusation! They left all the evidence to network security and they all know that there is no such thing as network security in Lebanon!

    For the STL to release such a weak evidence is insulting!

    Posted by Ismail | August 17, 2011, 3:39 pm
  6. So we have seen the majority of the evidence, and I don’t think it has changed anyone’s mind about anything. Bummer.

    I feel like the answer, to me–at least, lies in understanding the difficulty involved in forging telecommunications data. I’m not looking for danny or akbar to speak on the issue, or any regular for that matter. What I’m really interested in is an expert on the subject explaining the feasibility of such an operation. It is just too damn perplexing that the STL’s case rests on the data of an industry known to have been working for Israel. I recall a while ago there was a commenter on here purporting to be a telecommunications expert, or at least he seemed like he knew what he was talking about. He was very careful to say that it would be extremely difficult – never did he say it was impossible. If telecommunication data forgery is possible, and someone had the capability and motive to do it, it would be Israel; yet every poster here assumes that it is not possible. Where did this assumption originate?

    Posted by Nasser V | August 17, 2011, 3:43 pm
  7. According to Wikipedia, with regard to location of mobile phones, “Qualified services may achieve a precision of down to 50 meters in urban areas where mobile traffic and density of antenna towers (base stations) is sufficiently high. Rural and desolate areas may see miles between base stations and therefore determine locations less precisely.” So ‘co-location’ here is quite relative.

    If a state intelligence service was behind the attack (Syria, Israel…) and had these Hezbollah members under surveillance, it may not have been difficult to establish a chain of ‘co-locations’ of network phones with the HA members’ PMPs. Which is the key and only evidence tying those HA individuals to the attack.

    Anyone know anything about the reliability of CDRs?

    Posted by Kieran Wanduragala | August 17, 2011, 3:47 pm
  8. Nasser,

    I am not an expert in this so I will wait for REAL experts try to lay out the prosecution’s case in the court of Law. In the meantime I am enjoying the amazing Toronto Summer and having a chilled Grey goose.

    lakhayem

    Posted by danny | August 17, 2011, 3:50 pm
  9. Nasser:

    I for one would be interested in having that question answered as well. Not only if it were possible to alter the data, which I suppose anything could conceivably be altered. But how easy, and the likelihood etc of such an event. I worry though that you may cling on to the tiniest possibility of truth.

    Either way, HA and friends have already gone publicly, like a flamer in a Pride Parade, to announce to the world they have caught all sorts of spies who worked for Israel within the Lebanese telecommunication industry.

    I am sure that those spies will explain in detail how the alleged alteration of data took place during the defense trial.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 17, 2011, 3:57 pm
  10. I have read the indictment and I agree with QN: even though circumstancial, the evidence extracted about location, placement, and contact via mobile phones cam reasonably establish the conspiracy and organization and logistical supervision of the assassinations. What is proved by the evidence are the following1) surveillance; 2) purchase of the van which was used for detonation; and 3) working with abu adass on the post-assassination claim of responsibility. However, the indictment does not link the conspirators to the actual purchase or handling of the explositves, nor does it link them to however drove the van and detonated it (supposedly, not abu adass but dna evidence did not provide a positive identification of van driver).

    The relation of the 2 main leaders (badreddine and ayyash) to HA has not been established beyond family relations to Mughnieh and flimsy speculation about choosing Tripoli to deflect from south Beirut. The next set of indictemnts will need to address a direct link between either one of the two leaders and Syrian, Iranian, or HA officials to establish yet another cirumstantial evidence of the involvement of higher ups: you will need a smoking gun, however, to implicate anyone involved in security, intelligence, or politics: either live witnesses, documents, or phone taps at least. Maybe this will be included in the next set of indictments.

    As this document stands, though, the only result would be to implicate the accused in conspiracy and attempt to commit murder(s), but the murder(s) themselves cannot be established without proof of connection to the actual explosives (and not just the van in which the explosives were set). I am assuming the question of explosives have been saved for the next set of indictments, implicating those who purchased or fabricated the materials and provided them to the operational team.

    Is it still at the end of August that the next set of indictemnts will be released to the Lebanese authorities?

    Posted by Parrhesia | August 17, 2011, 4:08 pm
  11. The circumstantial evidence is very strong but it won’t make one Hezbollah supporter change their mind. It will be viewed as just another part of the war against Hezbollah by the Zionists and imperialists. Let’s hope one or two FPM’ers change their minds but I won’t count on that either. Their politics are driven almost totally by pragmatism and have no moral dimensions.

    Posted by AIG | August 17, 2011, 4:22 pm
  12. Nasser V,

    I too would like to hear some telecom expert’s opinion on the subject.

    I do however, wonder at your use of the phrase “It is well known that the telecom sector works for Israel”.
    Well known? Or just wishful thinking from someone who’s already made up their mind?
    Come on…Let’s be honest here.

    And what’s to stop the HA supporters to also say “It is well known that the telecom expert who said it’s impossible to forge this data also works for Israel”?

    This ridiculous catchall is like a free get out of jail card when one refuses to confront any evidence. There could be Hassan Nassrallah’s own DNA evidence on the explosives and you’d tell me that “It is well known that the DNA scientists work for Israel”…It’s a cop out.

    I will agree with the overall feeling that
    1- The evidence is circumstantial. That much is clear.

    2- It is pretty strong evidence, while circumstantial. While one cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt what happened, it is still fairly reasonable (for rational people) to deduce that these individuals, linked to these cellphones, weren’t “accidentally” nearby Hariri, and that they didn’t “happen to turn off their phones after Feb 14 by chance”, etc.
    So, circumstantial? yes. But still quite pointed evidence.

    3- AIG is right. None of this is gonna change the minds of HA supporters. That is sad, to me, who’s always insisting upon common sense, and being able to stick to reality instead of living in denial and constructing fantastical theories to explain a pretty plain reality. But there’s not much I can do to change that…

    The mere fact that the doubters (in our forum, that’d be Parhesia, Nasser, etc.) are now talking about the telecom sector being compromised, kinda gives a good indication of how this is going to work. Any straw will be grasped at to explain any evidence. As I said, even Hassan Nassrallah’s own DNA would be explained by some kind of Zionist conspiracy among the world’s scientific community.

    I’m almost curious to see – as a scientific experiment – how far in their delusions people are willing to go. The comments I made earlier about the Syrian crackdown are proof positive that people will go to great lengths of delusion. Let’ see what kinda crackpot theories come out in the coming days once people have had a chance to digest the contents of the indictment.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 5:26 pm
  13. LOL. I made my previous comment before reading the latest Nassrallah speech.

    He added that the telecommunications data in the indictment could easily have been manipulated by Israeli intelligence services, citing past reported infiltrations of Lebanon’s communication sector.

    Nice to see the talking points taken into action so fast around here…

    Come on guys. If it’s that freaking easy for Israel to do ANY of these magical feats you always seem to attribute to them, then why haven’t they simply blown up Nassrallah yet (and deftly blamed that one on Hariri supporters)?
    I can think of a million things an all-powerful nefarious Israel could have done more to further their interests than assassinating Hariri.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 5:33 pm
  14. Bad Vilbel – Israel cannot blow up Nassrallah becuase he has more security than any political figure in Lebanon.. we all know that, your logic is void… Anyway if or not israel has manupilated with the telecom data, which is a possibility admitted by any telecom expert, and i know enough on this subject to confirm this, this is definitely should not be the base of whole international investigation that has all the support, expertise, and high tech it can get from all intelligence agencies of the west. So does the STL has any thing else???? if not what a scandal, what a waste, what a disappointment …

    Posted by Fadi | August 17, 2011, 6:12 pm
  15. ‘And what’s to stop the HA supporters to also say “It is well known that the telecom expert who said it’s impossible to forge this data also works for Israel”?’

    I see what you’re saying BV, but I could care less about what HA supporters in general think. I’m just lookin’ for a conclusive answer. What would stop me from saying that about the telecom expert? Well if it wasn’t well-known that he worked for Israel.
    I did make too strong of a statement by saying the industry works for Israel; however, at least one of the suspected spies was in an administrative position.

    And no, AIG is not right. I am an HA supporter. I agree that the evidence is so far strong and makes me uneasy, but by no means concrete. I am going to be suspicious of the STL’s telecom findings but this does not mean nothing will change my mind.

    Posted by Nasser V | August 17, 2011, 6:38 pm
  16. Nasser;(I am not going to address Parrhesia);

    Just a simple question. Do you know what kind of positions these “supposed telecom spies” that were ‘apprehended” worked in?

    Don’t you sometimes wonder why on earth these so called spies were “found out” after the STL was established?

    Just wondering?

    Posted by danny | August 17, 2011, 6:56 pm
  17. I don’t know about you specifically, Nasser. But I’m quite convinced that almost zero HA supporters will change their minds, no matter what.
    It’s really nothing personal. It’s just human behavior. It seems that’s how the human psyche works. People would rather live a delusion than have something their entire belief system is based on be proven wrong.

    And in this case, with only circumstantial evidence…It’s just gonna be near impossible to change anyone’s mind no matter what.

    The biggest problem I have with the “it is well known” logic is that the burden of proof is not on you anymore.
    Tell you what, just like HA supporters want more than circumstantial evidence, then so should we when it comes to the telecom affair.
    Bring a case against the telecom spy. Let’s prove beyond the reasonable doubt that he did in fact alter telecom records, or whatever, then the claim that “The telecoms were tampered by Israel” can hold some water.

    Don’t you think it’s hypocritical that the STL has to PROVE (and even then, no proof seems to be enough) the guilt of HA or whoever, but Nassrallah can simply inform us that “It’s a zionist conspiracy” and we’re supposed to take his word for it?
    Tell you what, Sheikh Nassrallah, put your days in that hole to good use. Write a 100 page indictment, showing the links and proofs that Israeli intelligence tampered with our telecom system. Then maybe I’ll be more inclined to consider that alternative.

    The truth is, there is one side that simply states “well known facts” that we are supposed to take at face value.
    And then there is a professional international establishment, consisting of hundreds of legal professionals, from many countries, who have actually taken 5 years to present an actual document with some evidence that seems to add up (even though circumstantial).
    Again, reason and common sense will tilt me towards the latter.
    Only fanaticism and blind belief will take the mere word of a man over that of a body of evidence.

    I’d like to have seen the reaction of M8 supporters had Bellmare’s indictment been only one sentence long: “It is well known that Syria and HA comitted the Hariri assassination.” (No proof needed. take my word for it).
    Hehe.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 7:04 pm
  18. Danny,

    Let’s not even bother with the telecom spies. At this point, the burden of proof is on Nasser et. al.
    If you want me to take telecom tampering allegations seriosuly, give me some evidence!
    Just saying “everyone knows” won’t cut it.

    There is no excuse why said spying allegations cannot be brought to trial (just like the STL is doing on the other side). Try the spy. Present evidence in court. Show conspiracy. And then use that to blow a hole in the STL’s indictment.

    Is that so hard to do?

    Well, i guess if there’s no such evidence…it may be hard to do.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 7:09 pm
  19. “’It is well known that Syria and HA comitted the Hariri assassination’. (No proof needed. take my word for it).”

    Oh, most excellent & succinct summation of your pov, BV!

    You’re quite the scenarist. Given that you live in LA, are you an actual (or aspiring) professional of the genre?

    Posted by lally | August 17, 2011, 7:15 pm
  20. Couldn’t be any further away from it, actually. I’m a software guy.

    It’s just a pet peeve of mine when people use double standards (even unwittingly) to make points.
    “We want proof. We want proof. That evidence is inconclusive!”
    followed by
    “It is well known that….” (no proof necessary, cause some guy in a turban claims so)…

    Pet peeve…haha.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 7:20 pm
  21. BV,

    It could very well be that many if not most HA supporters also believe that it is fine if HA murdered Hariri. After all, if it is fine to commit suicide to fight Israel, why is not fine to kill Hariri if he comprised the fight against Israel by weakening severely the Syrian hold on Lebanon?
    Not one life is more important than the cause.

    So I am just giving you a heads up. As the evidence against HA mounts, you will see a shift to the following position: So what if we killed Hariri? Of course this position will only be fully articulated to the followers. After all, ones does not want to risk a civil war and a Shia organization admitting killing a Sunni PM may be a little dangerous. And that is also a great excuse why HA has to deny involvement. It is for the good of all Lebanese. Who wants a civil war?

    Posted by AIG | August 17, 2011, 7:32 pm
  22. BV,

    You had to answer… 😦

    I read what the HA camp are parroting here. Wow…Simon says!!! Nassrallah says!!!

    Off course we have not heard about those alleged spies! most likely they are HA fall guys trying to build a case for their loyal addle headed crowds. They never question about who the hell were these guys? Was there any evidence? Any trials?…Noooooooo!!! The Supreme leader said so! So we have all to agree or we are traitors or Nazi/Zionist conspirators!

    Yalla…Boys and girls give us some details about these alleged “spies”. Regardless this smokescreen is exactly what it is. Nassrallah sounds stale and more and more stupid.

    I will wait for the REAL experts to explain the case and the defense try to refute it. So far it seems obvious that they can’t…as all we hear is is crap upon crap from Turbaned warriors!

    Posted by danny | August 17, 2011, 7:32 pm
  23. AIG,

    I disagree with that latest prediction of yours.

    I am certain there are SOME HA types who have no problem with Hariri’s assassination. Not all. But some.
    But I can assure you that you will not hear “So what if we killed Hariri?” from the HA camp.
    It simply doesn’t work that way in Lebanon (i think this is one of those little subtleties that may be lost on an Israeli).

    Look at it this way: Despite decades of civil war and enmity, not one single side in Lebanese politics has ever openly stated that it is ok to kill another. (I know, amazing, right?)
    Even in the most vicious of times during the civil war, the leaders would still “call each other” or “meet” and then come out talking of cohabitation.
    It’s some kind of weird assbackwards taboo.

    Considering we’ve lost, I don’t know…100,000+ lives during the war?

    You’d think SOMEWHERE, AT SOME POINT IN TIME, SOMEONE would have actually openly called for attacking someone else.

    I’d be curious if anyone here who has the free time was would be able to go back and look through speeches and interviews and find me a single Lebanese leader actually openly admitting or inciting the death of another Lebanese…I know it’s hard to believe…But I think I may be right on this one.

    Oh there’s a lot of talk of “defending” oneself…Ala “We will cut off the hands of those who would disarm us”. (And many other speeches like that one). But you’ll notice that (1) They are never addressed by name at anyone in particular and (2) They always take on a defensive spin.

    No. I promise you. You will not hear “So what if we killed Hariri?” no matter how much some supporters may actually be thinking that.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 7:46 pm
  24. BV.

    “You’d think SOMEWHERE, AT SOME POINT IN TIME, SOMEONE would have actually openly called for attacking someone else.”

    Do Elias Murr’s helpful hints to the IDF count?

    Posted by lally | August 17, 2011, 7:50 pm
  25. Not really no. His comments (if I recall them correctly) were more about “Can you please try not to hit our guys? We didn’t do anything!”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 17, 2011, 7:57 pm
  26. BV,

    Wow! OK they did not “call to attack” right?

    Ask the people of Achrafieh…After the LBC skit! Or after the Prohet Muhammad’s cartoon depiction!
    You are free to ask the people in West Beirut or the Shuwayfet or the Aley region.

    No issue! No one “called” to attack. BUT attack they Did!!

    Posted by danny | August 17, 2011, 8:12 pm
  27. The fate of Hizballah should not be linked to the STL. It is the Shi’ites themselves that need to determine it.

    The only way to resolve that issue is for the Lebanese to hold a national referendum on the fate of the weapons in their possession.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 17, 2011, 8:31 pm
  28. BV.

    Your fuzzy memri of Murr’s perfidy must be suffused with LA smog.

    Posted by lally | August 17, 2011, 8:42 pm
  29. I’m not a supporter of Hezbollah, but I’m a supporter of resistance against Israel. I don’t personally give a damn who killed Hariri, anymore than I care about the dozens of other assassinated politicians (many of whom were actually holding office when they were assassinated) when hundreds of thousands of innocent Lebanese (far more innocent than Hariri) have been killed without any justice or retribution. If we spent a fraction of the energy or money that has been wasted on this farcical sideshow to actually reform the justice system in Lebanon, we would all be better off for it. Just because Hariri was a billionaire or a politician or a mob boss doesn’t mean his life or death had any more value than the thousands of anonymous people who are told to move on with their lives, nothing to see here, when their family members are killed or disappeared. So at its essence, I’m opposed to this whole “special tribunal” because it’s all a bunch of politicized bullshit. They could kill Berri or Nasrallah or Jumblatt or Geagea or any of those criminals and I’d feel the exact same way. In fact, it’s a joke that they’re not all executed for their crimes against the Lebanese people along with Hariri.

    So lest anyone try to paint me in one camp or another to dismiss my opinion on the matter, the “evidence” cited by the tribunal in their indictments is worthless. They “proved” that Hezbollah was monitoring Hariri? No shit, they monitor every politician in the country. They know where every person of interest is at any given time in the day. If Jumblatt chokes on a grape seed and dies tomorrow, don’t you think they’ll find that Hezbollah was monitoring his activities? Does that mean they planted the grape seed in his throat? I don’t buy that the surveillance implicates their guilt because I would have expected them to be monitoring him dead or alive.

    With regards to the telecommunications network, and whether or not Israel could have forged the data. Have you seen the complexity of the Stuxnet worm? The Israelis and their buddies in the CIA have immense technological capabilities. Planting data of this sort may be complex, but I can’t imagine it would be any more complex than designing, planting, and executing the Stuxnet worm in Iranian nuclear reactors. Whether or not you believe the Israelis did it, don’t doubt their ability to do so.

    I don’t know who killed Hariri. It could have been Hezbollah very easily. It could have been the Syrians or the Israelis (which can also be said for Mughniyeh’s assassination, in eerily similar circumstances). The bottom line is, this tribunal is in its essence a politicized and this irrelevant affair because it paints Rafik Hariri to be a person of such singular significance that his assassination deserves the type of justice that has evaded thousands. Take the Lebanese justice system out of the stone age, and then I’ll worry about who is doing the killings. Until then, it’s always going to be nothing more than a matter of which side you support, like everything else in that backwards country of ours.

    Posted by Mehdi | August 17, 2011, 9:23 pm
  30. Mehdi:

    You say it as though it’s normal (the whole surveillance thing).

    Why would Hizballah be following him (Hariri)? Did he give them cause to worry? Or do they simply follow everyone? Or is it just people above a certain rank?

    And if it is in fact normal to suspect they were following him (and let’s say they didn’t kill him), did they not see anything suspicious despite all this following?

    What do you suppose is happening there?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 12:05 am
  31. Maybe the fall of the Syrian regime sometime in the near future will make all the discussions about the SLT and HA mute since the survival of HA in its present “armed” form and structure would not be possible long-term.
    How many have noticed that Nasrallah never categorically and openely denied HA involvement in the assassination of Hariri and the others.
    He just says, the SLT is political, that Israel did it etc etc but never comes out and affirms HA complete and utter innocence.

    Posted by Yolla | August 18, 2011, 12:13 am
  32. Mehdi,
    I understand totally your feelings towards the “criminal” politicians of all stripes and the fact that Rafic Hariri is neither the first nor would he be the last political assassination that might not be solved. I have expressed this point of view numerous times over the past 5 years and in particular in regards to the efforts to sanctify Mr. Hariri through PR campaigns. Yet I have a major disagreement with your post since in my view , all the Maech 14 supporters not withstanding, this STL is not about the assassination of an individual or even a group of people. It is about an idea. Simply stated should there be a rule of law. If the answer is yes then the process should be allowed to proceed and everyone must accept the verdict issued . Let us move on.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 18, 2011, 12:19 am
  33. Mehdi,

    I completely agree with you that all the politicians should be brought to justice for their crimes against the Lebanese people and the many innocents who lost their lives or loved ones over the years.

    But the keyword here is “brought to justice” (as opposed to assassinated). As Ghassan points out, this about the rule of law.
    As you so clearly pointed out, the rule of law does not appear to apply when innocent civilians are maimed or killed or lose a loved one.
    None of the warlords were tried for their crimes against humanity after the civil war. And the little guy, the average man or woman has often been told “nothing to see here” as you stated.
    But this has to stop. We have to embrace the rule of law at some point.
    I’m all for reforming the judiciary. But since we have been incapable of doing so, and have been incapable of abiding by the rule of law ourselves, at least, in this occasion, the international community has brought the rule international law to us. And we should abide by that as well. Refusing to do so does nothing except confirm to all that we are a failed state, with no rule of law and no ability to govern ourselves.

    Danny,

    I’ve seen plenty of attacks. Forget Ashrafieh. I lived through the civil war and the various massacres it spawned.
    But my point was not about attacks actually occurring.
    My point was to AIG, who stated that the HA narrative may shift to “So what if we killed Hariri?” And my response was that such type of talk has never been the official line of any group or party in Lebanon.
    Even in the thick of the massacres in Damour, Karantina, Tal El Zaatar, Saida, the Chouf, no one ever said “So what if we killed so and so?”
    The leaders always play polite and give each other hugs (even while their followers are killing each other).
    So I do not expect HA will ever tow the line of “So what if we killed Hariri?”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 1:32 am
  34. For those who seem to think that the Israeli penetration of Lebanon’s telecom network is something people just made up:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle+east-10651074

    http://www.yalibnan.com/2010/07/16/third-telecom-spy-arrested-in-lebanon/

    The spies were arrested. Investigations were made. The trials are under way. Some of the ways in which data was tampered with was outlined in several press conferences by the Telecommunications Minister.

    And please note, the spies were uncovered by the Information Bureau, the same police unit that uncovered the communication networks used in the Hariri assassination.

    You don’t need experts. You need people who read.

    Posted by RedLeb | August 18, 2011, 2:57 am
  35. @Yolla, HA did say that the 4 “wrongly” accused were “shurafa'”, which for me is denying any involvement in the crime.

    @BV Remember the Guardian of the Cedars famous sentence “It is the duty of every Lebanese to kill a Palestinian”, This was painted on so many walls.
    Or the the Sheikh (somehow I can’t recall his name now) at the Mazra’a mosque who openly invited his followers to kill Christians …..etc.

    Posted by marillionlb | August 18, 2011, 3:14 am
  36. “What the tribunal published confirms what we have been saying for months, that the investigation is neither transparent nor scientific,”

    Says Hassan Nassrallah.

    Fine. I think most of us admitted the evidence so far is circumstantial.
    Can someone explain to me, after reading the indictment, how it can be characterized as being not transparent and not scientific?
    I read the document that was made public today. It seems about as scientific as can be. It lists the phone numbers, how they are tied together, a timeline, etc. It does not draw conclusions. It does not talk of politics.
    How is that non-scientific and non-transparent?

    Nassrallah talks of transparency and scientific value…What has he shown us that’s transparent? HA’s “investigations” into spies and so on are always opaque. We are always told that he knows best, and that we don’t need to know the details, and that we should just trust him when he tells us this or that. Hypocrite much?
    You wanna criticize the STL, after it publishes its findings, lists facts and figures and phone numbers and timelines, and SHARES THEM WITH THE PUBLIC, when you have yet to show any kind of transparency in your own organization? That’s rich.

    Let’s see your evidence. I call for HA to publish their own indictment. Show us what you have. List facts, numbers, figures, dates and times.
    All we’ve gotten so far was “The Israelis did it.” and we’re supposed to just accept that. And then he comes out and lectures us about transparency? Nice try….

    RedLeb,

    All nice and well. I wanna see the indictments on these spies. Just like I got to read the indictment of the 4 suspects of the STL.
    All those links tell us that some spies were arrested. And will probably never be heard from again.
    Are the court proceedings public? What are they accused of doing specifically? “Contact with Israeli intelligence”. Great. What did they do? Share information? Sabotage? Muck around the data of Badreddine’s cell phone? Let’s hear it. Let’s see it!

    You’all talk about transparency. Has there been a single instance of a transparent justice proceeding in Lebanon before now?
    Most of the time, perpetrators of anything aren’t found.
    The few times that they are, we hear that they were arrested. And then they seem to vanish into thin air.
    Where are the Lebanese judicial’s investigations into the various assassinations?
    Where are the murderers of the 2 Ziads?
    Where are the Fath Al Islam guys? ( Who keep escaping from Roumieh every 3 weeks). Are there public documents of any of those proceedings and investigations?
    Whatever happened to the Ahbash and HA guys who were supposedly arrested after “disturbing the peace” last year?
    Vanished, I bet. Back on the streets, I’m sure.

    Where are these so-called “files” that Michel Aoun keeps threatening to reveal about the M14 corrupt politicians? I’d LOVE to see those.

    There’s nothing transparent in Lebanon. It’s a breath of fresh air to read the STL indictment for the simple fact that for once in my 40 years, I was able to read actual names, phone numbers and a timeline.

    Can you say the same about ANY of the multitude murky events that have taken place going as far back as 1975?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 3:15 am
  37. Marillion,

    Good catch. I forgot all about that one. I guess I’ll eat crow on my claim that it’s never been said.
    Although those were different times.
    I still cannot picture HA ever openly saying “So what if we killed Hariri?”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 3:17 am
  38. As a telecom expert in fixed and mobile telephony and VoIP, and after years of experience in computer/network security, here are my 2 cents about the questions concerning the possibility of forging the data:

    – There is no 100 percent secure system. Any system can be penetrated and it will be, once it is connected to another computer or network.
    – Telecom equipment basically are computers, with some software running on them. So they might have bugs that create backdoors. And telephony equipment are known for security, as their major target is performance.
    – Anyone with super user (or root, or administrator) access on a system can erase or alter any data, including the CDRs (short for call detail records).
    – Telecom networks are comprised of multiple systems, each collecting data about calls. Depending of the network setup, information about a given call can be collected on multiple equipment. But for economic reasons, peripheral equipment usually don’t hold call data for long, but rather push it to a central location, where the data ends up as CDR in a relational database system.
    – Whoever has privileged access to the database can erase or modify call data.
    – And if you have super user access to the computer running the database, then you can erase your traces too (as most databases hold logs for commands entered by date and username).
    – There are ways to protect against data tampering by using intensive logging on external systems, digital signatures, frequent backups of the data, and external intrusion detection/prevention systems. But all these are can’t thwart the process if there is an insider helping.

    Overall forging the data is possible (although erasing is much easier than altering). So is hiding your traces.

    In order to pull off the forging of the data, an outsider (or insider) needs a good understanding of the network and operational procedures and priviliged access to the system(s).

    But also the forger can hide his traces. So proving that the data was forged is as difficult as proving it wasn’t (ok, maybe more difficult).

    Also, bear in mind that the scenario described above pertains to calls within the same telephone network (single administrative domain). Once a call is mad off-net, then the data of the call will be registered on another operator’s network. So the whole process needs to be repeated in another telephone network, with the same accuracy (e.g. CDRs record time in milliseconds). Imagine what happens when the call transits one or more transit networks.

    Posted by XP | August 18, 2011, 4:09 am
  39. oops, the line above “And telephony equipment are known for security, as their major target is performance” should read:

    And telephony equipment are not known for security, as their major target is performance

    Posted by XP | August 18, 2011, 4:13 am
  40. I am in total agreement with you BV, I fail to see the day when HA will have the audacity to say “So what if we killed Hariri?” and I also have my reservation as to if the indictments will change some Aoun’s followers minds. To your list of questions I would add if I may “Where is Joseph Sader?”

    Posted by marillionlb | August 18, 2011, 4:41 am
  41. Hope and Change

    QN,

    Thanks for the interesting account, the indictment, etc. Since most of the evidence is based on cell phone usage, I would have to say Uncle Sam was probably involved with collecting the data.

    The STL indictment along with the Arab Spring, is the best chance I’ve seen for the Arab world to slip out of the clutches of jihadist despotism, and into the light of democracy. The cracks are showing. I hope this time will not be squandered like so many times in the past.

    With Syria falling apart, Hezbollah and Iran are in trouble. This has implications similar to the break-up of the USSR.

    Without an existential threat, Israelis can work on internal issues like buying cheap tents, guitars, food, housing and other “social” issues.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 18, 2011, 7:06 am
  42. BV,

    The indictments were made public. They were published in the papers. The spies had lawyers. They went to trial. You can read about it if you like. But of course you won’t because that would refute your wild imaginings of the Lebanese judiciary.

    As for what they are accused of:

    The guy in management was accused of blocking the purchases of more secure telecom equipment and of ensuring only equipment whose technology had been compromised by the Israelis was procured. This was equipment for the cell phone towers.

    The technician was accused of providing root passwords to the computer systems running and managing the Alfa network. This would allow the Israeli’s to access and modify data.

    I forget what the third one was accused of.

    None of them were accused of tampering or accessing the data themselves. But they provided the Israelis with the means to do so.

    And yes, it is up to the prosecutor to establish the validity of the call data used in the investigation. Given the compromised nature of the network, it would be tough to do (in a fair trial, of course).

    Posted by RedLeb | August 18, 2011, 7:18 am
  43. XP
    I was told once that as a network intruder gains unlawful access to a system to tamper with data that the intruder cannot fake their own time footprint. Is that so?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 18, 2011, 8:06 am
  44. There obviously must be stronger evidence connecting the Hariri assassination to Hawi and the attempts on Murr and the television anchor, beyond the phone records.

    It might be this evidence that will lend stronger credibility to the phone record scenario?

    After all, the prosecution has informed the victims that these criminal acts are interlinked.

    I hope the remaining cases are not solely based on mobile phone records too.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 18, 2011, 9:01 am
  45. Politics trumps reasoning most often, so it will be difficult to sway people either way. However, Hezbollah is more and more on the defensive, and I’m sure they’re having meetings that best can be labelled damage-control meetings.

    I believe there will be more indictments coming, putting Hezbollah continuously on the defensive.

    I assume the long time frame was in part due to the numerous investigations that are under the mandate of the STL. Administrative and logistical undertakings should not be forgotten. This takes time, especially within the UN.

    Even if telecom data can be tampered with, it seems to me highly unlikely that they were. The sheer complexity is just daunting, not to mention that it could be quite easily claimed that these Hzb operatives were not at the place and time as indicated in the indictment.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 18, 2011, 9:10 am
  46. BV,

    Please reread what I wrote. I said that outside the message will always be denial. But to true believers and supporters, the message will become: So what if we killed Harriri? And from what Mehdi wrote, this message will play well.

    Posted by AIG | August 18, 2011, 9:29 am
  47. Ghassan,

    Not necessarily. Once they have privileged access to the system (and any other level of access is useless), they are allowed to modify and remove any file; and logs are basically plain text files except for a few.

    The timestamp that you mention is the login time. There are widely available programs that can modify these records.

    Even if the timestamp is not changed what does that prove? That user Joe which is a legitimate user logged in at such and such time? Although you might assume that his account is compromised, you can’t know exactly what was modified.

    There need to exist extra measures/tools to protect the integrity of the data.

    Posted by XP | August 18, 2011, 9:30 am
  48. XP and RedLeb, thanks for your input.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 18, 2011, 10:31 am
  49. If they actually do this, it would be a smart move:
    http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/13090-report-cabinet-resignation-scheme-to-avoid-commitment-to-stl

    It could buy them a few months.

    Posted by AIG | August 18, 2011, 10:58 am
  50. Bad Vilbel:

    “But this has to stop. We have to embrace the rule of law at some point.
    I’m all for reforming the judiciary. But since we have been incapable of doing so, and have been incapable of abiding by the rule of law ourselves, at least, in this occasion, the international community has brought the rule international law to us. And we should abide by that as well. Refusing to do so does nothing except confirm to all that we are a failed state, with no rule of law and no ability to govern ourselves.”

    You’re right it has to stop. That isn’t the goal of this tribunal, though. This isn’t about reforming the justice system, or the international community’s deep caring for Lebanon’s judicial integrity. The tribunal is set up to find out who killed a pro-Western (and pro-Saudi) politician with as narrow a lens as possible, constantly pointed at the enemy du-jour. Do you think for a second, if Nasrallah or Berri or even Aoun was assassinated, we would have the same interest from the international community to bring their killer to justice? Of course not. This is about using the assassination to serve a political purpose that suits the Western world. Once again Lebanon is being used as a pawn in the regional game, and just because it’s decorated with protestations of noble intentions, doesn’t mean it’s still not at its core a stinking pile of shit.

    This is also about increasing the sectarian tension in the country, to rip away the aura of nobility from Nasrallah that was sweeping the predominately Sunni Muslim world. In that sense, it has been mission accomplished. Hezbollah is now seen as a sectarian militia rather than the pride of the Arab world’s resistance. In the grand scheme of things, when taking the effects into context, the sacrifice of Hariri was a net win. His assassination and the aftermath had been the biggest defeat dealt to Hezbollah and Syria up until the Syrian uprising. Small price to pay, methinks.

    Let’s just stop with the deification of Hariri, and let’s call a spade a spade. The tribunal is a joke and a farce, and the sooner we all recognize that, the sooner we can move on to bigger and more pressing issues. Hariri is dead and gone, and good riddance. I wouldn’t shed a tear if they all killed eachother off. Maybe then the people would see where their common interests lie and start uniting based on IDEAS and PROGRESS rather than religion and sects and zu’ama.

    Posted by Mehdi | August 18, 2011, 11:22 am
  51. Mehdi

    Let’s just stop with the deification of NASRALLAH, and let’s call a spade a spade.

    Hezbollah is now seen as a sectarian militia rather than the pride of the Arab world’s resistance. IF IT IS ONE, WHY NOT? OR WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT STATMENT? IF INDEED THEY KILLED HIM, THEN THEY ARE A GENUINE MILITIA FOR (AT LEAST) HALF THE LEBANESE.

    Posted by rm | August 18, 2011, 11:36 am
  52. rm,

    I agree, Nasrallah is deified when he’s just another crooked politician looking out for his own interests like the rest of them. Hezbollah’s social values are despicable, and they are proving to be hypocrites in the eyes of the world by sticking with Bashar the butcher. Having said that, I support resistance against Israel and any actions they take in response to Israeli aggression, but I don’t like how they’ve monopolized the resistance.

    We’d all be better off if Nasrallah and Hezbollah were gone, along with both the Iranian and Saudi influence brought on by the bought and paid for “Future” movement (what’s so futuristic about groveling before the mouth breathers in the House of Saud, I wonder).

    You’re not going to find me defending any of them. I mourn more for the single innocent shepherd killed by Israeli fire than I would if all of these “zu’ama” were blown up in a building together.

    Posted by Mehdi | August 18, 2011, 11:43 am
  53. You can really feel the pressure for hizb supporting folks generally. the altar on which they placed the hizb is roten inside-out. their only (could it be?) moral pillar, their god of a sort, was soiled; god is dying & Nietzche is blinking again. The metamorphosis into a commoner made of human of flesh will be painful for hizb folks who will have to comprehensively re-consider their paradigm of good vs evil if their party is a lebanese killing achine. smart people (qunfuz) made a swift transition. for most others it will be a slow painful process.

    Posted by rm | August 18, 2011, 11:50 am
  54. I agree with you Mehdi that the UNIIIC and STL was established on political grounds. Probably because they had a good idea who the killer was and saw as good an opportunity as any to squeeze them.

    But even if it arose due to political considerations I still welcome the side-effect of attempting to end impunity in Lebanon. Let’s not forget that several more where assassinated both before and after, and these killings are under the authority of the STL to investigate.

    And honestly, what institutions in this world don’t arise due to political considerations? It’s all politics.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 18, 2011, 11:58 am
  55. The STL can be a beginning (flawed as it may be). But ultimately, what Lebanon needs, is a comprehensive justice campaign a la latin american or south africa. My hopes are pinned on the new generation that is trying to break the chains from the current political class. this new generation if it is well educated and empowered is necessary for a comprehensive justice in lebanon one that goes after criminal, from geagea to jumblat & aoun. each one of them will need to defend his innocence. this is where ideally we should be aiming for. it is then for us as lebanese to use the STL and ask for a more comprehensive, retrospective justice.

    Posted by rm | August 18, 2011, 12:00 pm
  56. I’d rather do something else than read the document, but I have a question for those who took the time to peruse it. Could you please tell me whether we would be here, if the love-stricken indictee did not use one of the “hot” mobile phones to call his sweetheart, as was claimed a few years ago?

    Posted by Badr | August 18, 2011, 12:22 pm
  57. Given the status uplift that HA has given the Shia community in Lebanon, it is very hard for me to see the majority of Shia’s stopping their support of HA even if stronger evidence emerges that HA was behind Hariri’s murder. The analogy are the Syrian minorities that don’t like Assad but support him over any other alternative because they fear deterioration in their status.

    Posted by AIG | August 18, 2011, 12:23 pm
  58. Badr,

    The anonymous phones were connected to the people in the indictment because these people also had personal phones which they used and their location was always 100% correlated with the anonymous phones. The correlation is not based on one call but on co-location of the personal phones with the “work” phones.

    Posted by AIG | August 18, 2011, 12:26 pm
  59. Let’s see the Govt. enforce the newly passed public smoking ban in the Southern suburbs of Beirut 🙂

    Posted by R2D2 | August 18, 2011, 12:34 pm
  60. RedLeb #42

    Can you kindly post a link to the indictment?

    I am not quite sure how to search for it.

    (Perhaps QN, if you’ve seen those documents, you can make them also available here at your website).

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 12:48 pm
  61. All, and XP specifically:

    XP. Thanks for the info.

    So where are we?

    Either:
    1) Accused Really Did Kill Hariri

    in which case talk of telecom falsification is moot, or

    2) Accused Did Not Kill Hariri

    Let’s focus on this case, since it seems to be create such interest.

    If the accused are in fact innocent, then there is 2 possible (and unless someone disagrees, please point it out), mutually exclusive scenarios.

    Either

    a) Telecom Data was falsified

    There are two distinct types of falsification.

    Type 1 is the one that XP appears to be referring to. A file/data exists in a server somewhere. Some Spy Agency has access to that server. Enters data fraudulently, changes a time stamp. Whatever. Let’s call this Data Record Fraud.

    Type 2, I believe no one has discussed, which is to falsify the data itself. Meaning, making this Cell tower or that Cell tower believe incorrectly that a certain cell was in its vicinity. So the record itself will be correct, but the data that created it was false. Let’s call this Input Data Fraud.

    For Data Record Fraud, this event happens any time after the event. A file is there. A day later, or 10 days later, or maybe 1 year later, or even 10 minutes later…. someone with access modifies the file.

    For Input Data Fraud, the plan has to be much more sinister. The spies have to pull it off in the instants (hours) around the actual unfolding of the event.

    For data record fraud, there would be some rather straightforward ways of assessing likelihood of tampering. This is what XP alludes to when he talks of backups and what not. Or cell towers from different companies, and their records.

    But whether or not the kind of fraud we are talking about is “Data Record” or “Input Data”, there is another dimension to this Fraudulent activity, and that is the “Espionage” dimension.

    The Espionage dimension is that some spy agency must somehow have known the contact tel numbers of 4 alleged HA operatives. I would suppose this information is typically kept secret by a secretive organization like HA. But clearly, to pull off this fraud, a very successful infiltration by Mossad must have happened to allow access to those phone numbers. (Unless of course, you can readily find their phone numbers in the Lebanon white pages, in which case disregard my point).

    The question becomes then, if data were falsified… Why did it not CONTINUE to be falsified, for all subsequent murders. I would imagine a very distinct line would be drawn in time when this nefarious activity stopped, and it should be correlated to some corrective action taken by the Lebanese authorities (for example, purchase of more “secure” and “tamper-resistant” telecom equipment). XP can perhaps tell us if those options are truly viable.

    b) Telecom Data was not falsified

    In this case, it seems for some it does not matter. It is natural to expect a highly secretive organisation like HA to be sticking its nose in the movement of high profile figures.

    If it were not falsified, then I suppose we should be able to construct similar HA tracking activity for other high profile figures. For, if Mehdi, or whoever mentioned the point, is correct in stating that this is regular operational activity of HA, then the records should readily be there to prove it.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 1:04 pm
  62. Nice post Gabriel

    Though I don’t understand why with input data fraud it would have to be done at the same time as the events unfold. Could you explain that to a layman like I? Why not input the data at a later time, to make it look like the calls were made from that point and time?

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 18, 2011, 1:24 pm
  63. Gabriel #60,

    I found these two editions of Al Akhbar:

    Click to access alakhbar20101224.pdf

    and

    Click to access alakhbar20101225.pdf

    Al Akhbar’s archives from before 2011 are bit messed up (they got hacked during the Egyptian revolution), otherwise I would have linked to the articles directly.

    The articles talk about the spies, sourced from court filings and investigative records.

    Posted by RedLeb | August 18, 2011, 1:40 pm
  64. I see that there are very few close readers of texts, here. As I mentioned earlier there is no proof provided for the assassination only proof of surveillance, purchase of the van, and claims arrangements. Unless scientific proof links the accuses to the explosives and or the driver of the van, these court proceedings are going nowhere. The best possible judgment would be conspiracy… Unless some tangible proofs are provided in the future, the STL is over.

    Posted by parrhesia | August 18, 2011, 1:42 pm
  65. XP #47,
    I am not a technical person but I do not think that you have answered my question; or maybe I have not asked the right question 🙂
    Let us assume that an intruder gains access to the network on the 10th in order to either add or change an event that took place on the 8th . I am told that that entry must carry a time stamp of the 1oth. If that is true then we would have an event 5that supposedly took place on the 8th but with a time stamp of the 10th?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 18, 2011, 1:59 pm
  66. Gabriel #61,

    A lot depends on the correlations made between the color coded networks, and between the networks and the PMPs. I’m still not certain how often does the data show the location of a phone. Is it only when a call is made, or periodically (say every 5 minutes) regardless of call activity?

    Secondly, the indictment states that identification of the owner of a PMP was possible because they would call people who are easily identifiable; and on examining the cluster of identifiable people, they inferred who the owner must be.

    If I was the mastermind behind framing Hizballah, I would have one of two options. In both cases, the color coded networks are the actual assassination teams. They could be my operatives, or I’m piggy-backing on top of another group’s conspiracy.

    Option 1: I know the cluster of identifiable people (the same way the STL knows them). I forge data records that show calls made to these people from a specific phone number. And I co-locate the phone number with the assassination team. In this way, the PMP is made to look like it belongs to a Hizballah operative.

    Option 2: I actually manage to get the phone numbers of the PMP for specific people I want to frame. I tamper with the software on the cell towers so that every time a call is made from a PMP phone, its location is co-located with a designated color coded phone. In this way, the PMP owner is always seen as being where the assassination team is.

    How would I manage to get the phone numbers? I have complete access to the mobile phone network. I can run my own analysis on the clusters of easily identified people to figure out the phone number of the operative I am targeting.

    In both cases the data tampering would be automatic, via modified software installed on the cell towers or control systems. The software would, in real time, modify or generate data as needed.

    Posted by RedLeb | August 18, 2011, 2:03 pm
  67. You don’t need to read the document. Just bring it up and count how many times “concluded” appears, e.g “reasonably concluded” and “it can be concluded”.

    But hey, years of work, millions of dollars all for a bunch of prosecutorial conclusions, circumstantial evidence, guilt by association (if the prosecutor is not entirely sure what the association is since in some paragraphs these guys are “supporters” and in others “party members”.

    And talking of millions of dollars, should the Lebanese govt. sue the UNIIC since its entire evidence locker seems to be full of stuff Lebanese investigators discovered? That the indictment was available in German papers and Canadian tv shows long before the Lebanese got it?

    Also, note:

    “The evidence gathered throughout the investigation, including witness statements,
    documentary evidence and Call Data Records (COR) for mobile phones in Lebanon….

    18. Call Data Records contain information such as incoming and outgoing phone numbers, the date and time of a call, its duration, call type (whether voice or text message), and the approximate location of mobile phones by reference to the celltowers which carried a call.

    No mention of IMEI numbers or any type of unique identifiers.

    And I love the train of supposition:

    “All four Accused are supporters of Hezbollah” –>”In the past, the military wing of Hezbollah has been implicated in terrorist acts” ->” BADREDDINE and AYYASH are related to each other through marriage and together to a certain Imad MUGHNIY”–>” Based on their experience, training and affiliation with Hezbollah, therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that BADREDDINE and AYYASH had the capability to undertake the 14 February 2005 attack.”

    So if you support Hizballah and are related to someone in Hizballah it is “reasonable to conclude” that you had the training and experience to commit the crime – I am assuming that he is assuming since I doubt Hizballah gave him access to their training material and members list.

    Guess how many Shia in Lebanon are now also ready to be indicted based on those assumptions?

    So supposition and circumstantial evidence almost all of which is the result of work by Lebanese investigators is what the Lebanese has spent these many years paying for?

    They couldn’t have done this years ago and saved the country the years of tension? Or was that the intention?

    Al hakika my shiny metal ass.

    Posted by mo | August 18, 2011, 2:05 pm
  68. Pas cool. I’m a layman myself, just trying to organize the info in my head.

    Whenever you walk around with your cell phone, you are in constant contact with the Cell towers that localize your position and give you the ability to receive and make calls.

    This communication is instantaneous meaning, signals go between the cell tower and your phone and at the moment the cell tower gets the signal, then a record gets created and gets stored in a file somewhere saying that essentially you were located by the cell tower, etc. (I don’t know details of the nature of this data).

    To date when people have talked about fraud, they’ve hinted at two type of falsification. The data record type, in which they suggest someone was able to hack into the system access the file, make alterations. XP said that in his own experience this is tractable.

    The other kind which I call input data fraud has nothing to do with the record. It is about (if possible) fooling a cell tower into thinking a certain phone is there. I believe that is one of the suggestions HA made some time ago about those phones they found with altered chips (I don’t know the story as I didn’t understand technical details). This kind of fraud means that you would have had people with those tampered phones in the vicinity of the same cell towers, hence making those towers record the data from the corrupted phones

    Redleb. Thanks for the links

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 2:06 pm
  69. RedLeb #42,

    Please don’t be condescending and assume to know what I will or won’t read. If you’ve read my comments on this blog in the past, you know that I am extremely critical of pretty much all Lebanese leaders. That I am not pro this or that side (more like “anti-everyone”) and that I try to be fair to the facts (and not to some wild imagined conspiracy theories).

    Having said that, I appreciate you clarifying what it is know of these spies. I did not know what it was exactly that they did. I suppose if it can be proven that they did indeed do those things and give access, etc to others, then there is certainly a case to be made (and the defense in the SLT trials should certainly use that, as any good defense team should).

    As for the Lebanese judiciary, just because there are some records of the trials for these cases you mention doesn’t mean I will change my very low opinion of the Lebanese judiciary overall. To use a turn of phrase from a previous discussion “It is well known” that the Lebanese judiciary is not independent and is very politicized. But that is a separate matter.
    My questions about the various disappearances, murders and assassinations (Ziads, Sader, Fath Al Islam) still holds. In most civilized countries, police chiefs and ministers would resign for failing so miserably at their jobs. But not so in Lebanon.

    I’ll see if I can dig up literature of the Telecom spies trials. I’m interested in finding out more about that.

    PS: Here’s a thought. Since conspiracy theories can almost never be disproven…If it is possible for spies to give access to the telecom network, and change data to incriminate HA…How do we know that the evidence agains these spies wasn’t also fabricated? Maybe HA tampered with the records to make these spies look guilty of collaborating with Israel..I mean, these conspiracies work both ways, no?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:23 pm
  70. XP #47,

    I’m not in Telecom, but I do work with large enterprise software that is security conscious.

    While I agree with your overall technical assessment. I think it is very hard to REALLY wipe all traces of tampering.
    Even if one was able to log in with root privileges and tamper with the actual logs and database, the actual act of logging in as root, and the actual act of modifying this or that file are almost impossible to erase. There’s always SOME kind of footprint.
    (In overly simplistic terms, even if you have root access, your actions are still logged. And if you try to tamper with them, you often cannot do so from the same account, so there is yet another log in required that is in turn recorded somewhere, etc.)

    Also, no matter the degree of sophistication of the attack. The field of electronics and cyber forensics is pretty freaking amazing these days. While attacks are relatively easy to perpetrate, and near impossible to guard against, the tech and tools exist to usually discover said attacks (after or during their occurence).

    It’s actually not all that different from physical crimes and forensic sciences, in a sense. You can’t really prevent all rapes and murders and robberies. But once they have occured, even the best cleaned-up crime scene still end up yielding amazing little things to the forensic team.
    (For those who follow the CSI type shows…you’ll know how I mean).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:35 pm
  71. Gabriel, you raise valid issues, I will try to answer some of them.

    First off let me state that I have never worked in any of Lebanese telecom operators, and I don’t have a clue on their networks, procedures and security levels. But I have seen many situations that have resulted in data loss and theft. So in data security nothing can be excluded (just for the fun of it, put a server with some service on the Internet and you will be surprised how quickly it will be the target of attacks).

    The Input Data Fraud method that you mentioned (or identity theft as it is commonly known) can’t be pulled off nicely; it is much more sophisticated and won’t work all the time.

    Assume someone has a mobile A with the specific IMSI (SIM card ID) switched on. If I come and forge the same IMSI (not an easy task as I have to extract the authentication key stored on the SIM card, or get it from the mobile operator) with a mobile B and turned this also on what do you think will happen? B will send its IMSI to the authentication center (AuC) that has to issue a TMSI ( Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity). But it won’t, as it has issued one for A and that is still valid. Even if the implementation of the AuC allows 2 TMSIs, the VLR (visitor location register) will see 2 TMSIs (or 2 addresses) coming from 2 different locations. It will assume that the mobile is in an area of overlapping radio coverage and will continuously request handover from the towers. So both mobiles will be disfunctional.

    This type of fraud is not easy to do and to my knowledge won’t work. But I if someone can pull it off, then I agree that you can’t prove that the data was forged.

    You might consider other scenarios of man in the middle attacks, where the data between the cellular network equipment beyond the radio tower are intercepted and forged. These are much more feasible.

    My whole point is that data forgery is a possibility and shouldn’t be overlooked. I think it was RedLeb that mentioned that the STL should prove the integrity of their data. I am not sure whether they have said anything about it, but in the court I assume that will one of the major issues. If the defense can shed the slightest doubt on the integrity of the data then the case will collapse.

    Posted by XP | August 18, 2011, 2:36 pm
  72. Mehdi #50,

    The tribunal is set up to find out who killed a pro-Western (and pro-Saudi) politician with as narrow a lens as possible, constantly pointed at the enemy du-jour. Do you think for a second, if Nasrallah or Berri or even Aoun was assassinated, we would have the same interest from the international community to bring their killer to justice? Of course not.

    You’re missing the point though. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It doesn’t matter to me what they would have done if Nassrallah or Berri were assassinated. I don’t care.
    The bottom line is, Hariri/Gemayel/Hawi/Tueni et al. WERE assassinated. And international law was invoked.
    It doesn’t matter what the INTENTIONS were. The law has to be followed.

    I think that’s where I sense the biggest cognitive dissonance between my view of the law and that of Lebanese in general. There is a lot of focus on INTENT from most Lebanese.
    I argue that INTENT is irrelevant.
    Would I like that the international community took as much interest in the assassination of Abbas Moussawi? Sure.
    But that does not diminish the fact of the Hariri assassination.
    I don’t rightly care WHY someone is being investigated and/or tried. If a crime was committed, then the law should be applied. What the motivations of the investigators is immaterial (as long as they do not commit conspiracy by tampering with evidence or obstructing justice, which are crimes themselves).

    I like to use the DSK affair as my example of law.
    Would I care if DSK was being attacked for political reasons pertaining to the IMF or the French elections?
    If it is proven in a court of law that he really did rape that maid, then that’s what that is and I don’t care if the prosecutor decided to press charges because of a personal dislike for DSK, or for his own political reasons. That does NOT matter.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:42 pm
  73. Also, I know some deify Hariri (and Nassrallah and Aoun). I am not one of them. I dare you to look back at every comment I have ever posted here and find me one sentence where I show any reverence for Hariri (father, or son).

    I have no love for the corrupt politicians of M14. I have no love for HA or FPM either.

    Each of these sides has shown to be in turn, incompetent, despicable, unpatriotic, corrupt and self-serving. Just cause I point out one issue today doesn’t mean I am on the other team.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:44 pm
  74. Mehdi #52

    Well said!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:45 pm
  75. Redleb,

    I still have to go through those links. Interesting take in #66. A few questions if you/any other reader knows the answers:

    Is Alpha the only mobile company with cell towers in the region or area?

    Is it only employees at Alpha that were arrested on account of being Israeli spies?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 2:47 pm
  76. Gabriel #75,

    Both mtc and alfa have cell towers all over Lebanon.

    Only alfa employees were arrested on spying charges.

    I do remember that the pre-paid calling cards purchased in Tripoli (I guess those are the Red Team phones that were topped up in close proximity as the indictment states) were all alfa numbers. Al Akhbar published the numbers in 2005, as they also published all numbers from the indictment (those that were blacked out) today. However, they did not specify if all the numbers were on the alfa network.

    Posted by RedLeb | August 18, 2011, 2:55 pm
  77. Parhesia #64,

    Agreed. That’s why I called the evidence circumstantial. All it proves is that a team of individuals (with possible links to HA) were hovering nearby Hariri at various times (surveillance) and were present in the same area where the van that blew him up was purchased, etc.

    However, circumstantial evidence, while perhaps not sufficient in a purely legal sense, can be quite useful to use common sense and draw some conclusions.

    I’m sorry, but I can find no other explanation as to why these individuals would all go out of their way to buy secret phones (who carries 4 cellphones) used exclusively to compartmentalize their contacts, be at the same dealership where a suicide bomber van was purchased, “surveilled” Hariri for a couple of months riught before his assassination, then stop using those phones right after he was killed. Why the calls were timed so damn perfectly close to his assassination, along with the van, and how they managed to have a connection, on those same phones, with the guy who appeared on video claiming responsibility for the assassination.

    I’m sorry. It’s just too damn hard to explain in any other way.

    I can understand RedLeb’s theory of telecom data being falsified. Fine. At least that one has some kind of logic to it.

    But if the phone records are correct, then the ONLY possible explanation for these individuals being where they were and who they were in contact with is some kind of role in the assassination.

    If they were simply “surveying Hariri”, then howcome they had contact with Abu Addas? Do “intelligence surveillance teams” typically also associate with suspect suicide bomber videos? That doesn’t add up.

    I think that last point is the biggest problem with the “This was just surveillance” defense.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 2:59 pm
  78. mo,

    Nice try.

    I think we ALL agree the evidence IS circumstantial.

    That the indictment uses some common sense to draw conclusions is really not unusual. I don’t understand why you would focus on “reasonably concluded”.
    If they had come up with definitive proof of fact, they would have stated so.
    They are being quite truthful and clearly stating that these are the facts we do have (the phone records), and we are CONCLUDING the following conspiracy.
    That’s the job of a prosecutor.
    And it will be the job of a defense to show that such a conclusion is erroneous.
    I am astounded by how people refuse to read things for what they are.
    You have every right to believe your own theory of what happened. But you have to admit that this document was written exactly the way it should have been. It makes no claims to know what happens. It does exactly what a professional police investigation SHOULD do.
    People forget that this is the Prosecutor’s document.
    This is not the judge, nor the jury.
    (Then again, people in Lebanon probably have no idea how that works, heh).

    Watch any stupid courtroom drama movie or tv show.

    The prosecutor often opens with “I am here to show you that defendant X did indeed murder his wife.” and follows with a legal/logical presentation along the lines of “This is the facts we know…The weapon was found in the defendant’s car. With his wife’s blood on it…We can therefore CONCLUDE that he committed the crime.”

    That’s what prosecutors do.

    Then the defense will try to blow holes into those “conclusions”, by saying for example “It is possible the wife cut herself on the knife by accident, while unloading groceries from the car, and left the knife there. This all happened while the defendant was asleep in his bedroom.”
    (or in our case, the possibility that the phone records were falsified).

    And this introduces “reasonable doubt”.

    And so on.

    I see nothing wrong with the indictment document. It puts forth the prosecution’s case, what facts they have, and what conclusions they draw. That’s exactly what they should be doing. It is NOT their job to be judge, or to declare guilt or innocence.
    Their job is to make a case for the prosecution and to – gasp – draw conclusions.
    It is someone else’s job to weigh this evidence and decide…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 3:14 pm
  79. And lastly (I’ve been on a roll today), a somewhat touching op-ed piece:

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=302146

    Gotta admit, this pretty much is along the lines of my personal feelings on the matter.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 18, 2011, 4:36 pm
  80. Imagine that!

    Posted by lally | August 18, 2011, 5:09 pm
  81. XP, Redleb…

    If there were other Cell towers not belonging to Alfa (e.g. MTC) in the area around where the Hariri was being tracked, then I would suppose information specific to those Cell phones would have been logged by the MTC network as well, no?

    If this were true (MTC towers around) then either:

    The MTC offices/systems were also infiltrated (and records modified accordingly).

    or we can assume the data is in fact authentic.

    Again, if the towers are there, has there been any suspicion to date falling on the MTC and the integrity of its staff?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 5:22 pm
  82. Lally…

    Are you sure not a shred of you is Lebanese. You take such a tremendous active interest in events in the region, that goes beyond intellectual curiosity.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 18, 2011, 5:25 pm
  83. BV,

    What you are talking about is the smoking gun scenario and I suggest that your political views bias your belief that this document is decent investigative work as much as mine tells me that it is not.
    This is no smoking gun; This isn’t even fingerprints on a smoking gun and I’m willing to bet that given that

    a. the doubt placed on the telecoms “evidence” by the revelation of the fact that one of the telecoms companies was infiltrated by a spy network

    and

    b. No one has been able to properly investigate what Hariri and co. were doing with their not-so-secret third network

    I can reasonably conclude that no DA in the states would go to court with this.

    And I still want my money back for this so called investigation simply putting forward what Lebanese investigators discovered almost half a decade ago.

    But nice try yourself.

    Posted by mo | August 18, 2011, 7:59 pm
  84. And BV,

    Your condescension in trying to lecture me on how legal systems work is just crass and since you are generally so condescending about the entire nation of Lebanon what is it exactly that you care about so much that keeps you posting here?

    Posted by mo | August 18, 2011, 8:04 pm
  85. BV re: post #72

    That logic is flawed. What is the value of justice if it’s enacted selectively? That’s even worse than lawlessness, in my eyes. If I kill your brother and you kill my brother, it’s fine if you’re thrown in prison but I’m not because, well, at least one of us got justice?

    When we accept that the STL is a form of selective justice with deeply political motives – and I don’t know how many people still disagree with that assertion at this point – then we can start to ask whether the goal of the investigation is to really bring justice, or rather to punish the enemies of the aggrieved parties. If we accept that the goal is the punishment of Hariri’s enemies, then it’s only natural that Syria and Hezbollah were implicated. Now, taking all these factors into account, we’re presented with very weak circumstantial evidence that doesn’t really implicate anyone in the assassination but rather points to the surveillance of the figure in question as proof of guilt…and this should be enough to convince us of Hezbollah’s guilt? I’m not even bringing up the high possibility of fabrication of evidence (coming from a reportedly infiltrated and tainted source). The holes in the case are a mile wide as is. In fact, I think it would be hilarious if Hezbollah DID deliver the 4 individuals named in the indictments. Any lawyer worth a damn could get them off in a heartbeat.

    Posted by Mehdi | August 18, 2011, 8:32 pm
  86. Mehdi, you are of course entitled to your opinion. However, you are attacking the tribunal based on a set of grievances – one of the most disturbing of them is:

    – Many injustices have been committed in Lebanon, why focus on this one?

    Well, this one involved the murder in broad daylight of a former prime-minister and the collateral murder of several innocent civilians, not to mention the damage to property. Moreover, the murder occurred in a charged political environment in which there had been attempts at the lives of politicians and in which several journalists and politicians were later assassinated. To let this go – as you suggest – perpetuates this cycle of mafioso style elimination of opposition. What is to prevent the perpetrators from assassinating opposition figures that you may later find respectable. Indeed, what is to prevent them from assassinating you should you choose to oppose them and gain enough support to be a threat to them?

    – You claim that there is only proof of surveillance in the indictment. But in reality there is much more, involving the van implicated in the murder, the phone calls made afterwards to throw the trail off and to claim responsibility for a fictional organization. Not to mention that the surveillance itself is pretty suspicious, considering the timing of the phone calls and the timing of their cessation…

    – You forget the murder of Wissam Eid and the attempt on Shehateh’s (?) life. These two were supposedly on the case and had supposedly uncovered the telecom evidence. If HA is innocent of the Hariri assassination, why try to kill the investigators. And if it wasn’t HA that tried to kill them, then Shehateh is alive and should be able to exonerate HA, no?

    – the claim that the telecom data is falsified means that the investigators at the prosecutor’s office have either been duped or are all complicit. I would think that planted phone records should be detectable. At least one should be able to prove that, no? The claim of falsified phone records is also inconsistent with the assassination of Eid and the attempt on Shehateh’s life.

    Anyway… as I said, you are entitled to your own opinion but your theory and your logic seem much more problematic than the null hypothesis 🙂

    Posted by R | August 18, 2011, 9:24 pm
  87. Some try to act as if they know what they are talking about.
    Some profess they know the details of how the telecom industry works.
    Some dump the HA line that “spies” had infiltrated the network.
    Some disagree with everything.
    Some are condescending…some try to be.

    You guys are all great Lebanese. I am not as “smart” as you. i will wait for the REAL experts to lay out the case in OPEN court with transparency.

    I will wait for the not so guilty HA put up a defence instead of regurgitating age old crap abot IZraeel…

    It seems according to XP, Red Leb and others that it is so easy to refute these indictments and alleged evidence…Yet we have the HA militia head Nassrallah sweating it out! If it was so easy to refute dudes; go ahead and assemble a team for the beleaguered Nassrallah to make sure he does not spend any more sleepless nights.

    Again, I will wait for the court proceedings and I will accept the verdict and move on. All the rest of Bovine Scatology of yada yada yada won’t work.

    For the umpteenth time. If it is as easy as you (the HA camp…or anti Hariri dudes/dudettes) make ot sound about the fallibility of the evidence…then a well paid engineer or expert should have no problems exonerating the indicted!

    Posted by danny | August 18, 2011, 9:31 pm
  88. If one asks the following question:
    Assuming all this data and the logical conclusions it leads to is either false or has another explanation that excludes the culpability of those accused, how can one put one’s arms around the coincidences and highly improbable anticorrelations that would have to be assumed to accept such scenario?
    I wonder what a plausible and acceptable answer might be.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 18, 2011, 10:43 pm
  89. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck… could it, could it really be, could it really be a swimming/flying/quacking unicorn?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 18, 2011, 10:45 pm
  90. mo,

    First off, apologies if I seemed crass in my lecturing. I was somewhat annoyed at someone’s original assumption about me (I forget who it was).

    I would appreciate if people responded to me based on what I say, and not based on what they like to believe of what they perceive as the opposition (this is not directed at you specifically).

    I went out of my way to repeat several time that this evidence was indeed CIRCUMSTANTIAL. I NEVER claimed it was a smoking gun.
    I also clearly stated that I can buy the logic of telecom data being falsified. Even if I don’t personally believe that to be the case, I concede that it is POSSIBLE, therefore that defense would make sense.

    But one has to accept that the indictment document, in and of itself, makes a case, based on certain findings. The fact that said findings can be explained by telecom data falsification does not in and of itself make the indictment “politicized” or “Word of God” (unlike the “Israel did it” assertions who are never backed with much evidence).

    I went into a tirade about the justice system because I believe that many an American DA would in fact bring such an indictment to court, based on phone records, etc. I’ll go find some concrete examples where phone records were the basis of an indictment in the US whenever I get a chance.

    I reiterate that it is the job of the prosecutor to bring forth such an indictment. That in and of itself does not necessarily determine guilt. That is left for the trial.

    Can you at least accept my logic here (even if you disagree on HA’s guilt, that is not my point)?

    The short of it is: My bias and your bias aside. The document simply lists a connection between phone records and draws certain conclusions. What is so wrong with that?

    Whether this is enough to prove guilt, or whether said records were falsified by a 3rd party is a completely different story.

    As to my frustration with Lebanon, it is exactly that: frustration. Just because you’re frustrated at a spouse, or parents or child does not mean you do not love them. I’ll leave it at that.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 1:35 am
  91. Mehdi,

    I never said anything about selective justice. If it were up to me, everyone would be prosecuted.
    I clearly stated I’d love to see all the warlords tried for crimes against humanity for the civil war years. All sides.

    I think you and I are on a slightly different wavelength here. I do not want or encourage selective justice.

    But just because justice is flawed (and it is flawed in ALL systems, even in the USA or other western countries) does not mean that we shouldn’t prosecute anyone, IMO.

    Just because the US justice system often chooses not to go after this guy or that guy (corruption, or whathaveyou), or targets a certain politician because of the DA’s own motives, doesn’t mean that we should stop all trials in the US and let rapists and murderers go free. Does it?

    Just because the Rodney King affair was tainted with racism doesn’t mean that Ted Bundy shouldn’t have been tried.

    Lebanon is supposed to abide by international laws, flaws and all.
    Lebanon is also supposed to abide by its own laws, flaws and all.

    The more that is enforced the better. Just because to this day, we’re at 1% enforcement (for example) doesn’t mean we should let criminals go free. Those we can prosecute, we should. It’s better than nothing. Does the Lebanese justice system go after the powerful? No. (When was the last time a minister or son of a minister got arrested or prosecuted for various crimes we all know they committed?)
    Does this mean that when the ISF arrests a drug dealer, or the guy who murdered his wife in Jbeil, we should set them free (on account of the ISF being politicized)?
    That logic leads to nothing but chaos. I don’t buy it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 1:43 am
  92. HP.

    As I said earlier, the evidence IS circumstantial, like it or not. It does not PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT that the 4 accused pulled the trigger or conspired to assassinate.

    That’s the legal aspect of it.

    Having said that, the question of “coincidences” and “plausible explanations” is a good one. I don’t know what weight that sort of thing has in court when it comes to “reasonable doubt”. What’s “reasonable”?

    My personal opinion (non legal mode, now) is that the coincidences are just too damning to ignore. Common sense tells me that if it walks like a duck, etc….as you said.

    The one line of defense that I am willing to accept is that of falsified telecom records. And again, a competent defense team would do exactly that: bring up experts on the field and sow “reasonable doubt” that said phone records could have possibly been falsified.

    Many a trial has been dismissed or hung (at least going by my knowledge of USA law) on exactly that notion. The defense sways the jury enough to instill an amount of reasonable that it is POSSIBLE that something other than the “common sense” storyline may have happened. And that’s enough to get the case dismissed.

    Which is why I too think that HA should mount a defense. As danny said, if it’s so damned easy to hack phone records (and many here have stated as much), then bring up an expert, under oath, and have him tell the court exactly that. Is that so hard?

    At least that, I can accept, even if the verdict is not to my liking.
    But expecting me to accept things on the basis of “We all know Israel did it” is offensive to my rational mind. I guess people of faith can accept such things. I’m an engineer. I go by rational thinking. Don’t expect to accept stuff on faith alone.

    Someone pointed out earlier today that the spies in telecom were indeed tried. So there is a (or should be) a public record that the defense can point to. It’s not that hard. “Ladies of the jury, mister X confessed to giving Israeli intelligence access to the telecom network. It is therefore possible that these phone records the prosecution is presenting are falsified. I rest my case.”
    There….Simple enough.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 1:54 am
  93. Danny,
    Before you start tossing accusations around, read what people write. In my first post I said: “… proving that the data was forged is as difficult as proving it wasn’t (ok, maybe more difficult). ” The rest of your comments are not worth talking about.

    I never said that the data is forged or not. I plainly stated that the prosecution should prove that the data was not forged, as the defense will try to prove that the data is tampered with. And if the data the prosecution is presenting is based only CDRs then they have to have real proof that the data is authentic. Next time you go to court take your emails on a USB stick. The judge will be amused.

    GK and BV
    I understand what you are saying. And I am not trying to create scare stories or conspiracy theories. But any self respecting defense will question the integrity of the data presented.

    Let me go into some detail so that we can understand each other. When you log into a system, your login is recorded with a timestamp. On most systems your activities are not monitored, unless heavy auditing is turned on (more on that later). The logging is not automatic as you might assume. The program you are interacting with should request a log entry to be created, and the logger (special background programs) will oblige. Now there are some simple workarounds (we are assuming super user access):
    1) Disable the logger program and do whatever you want to do and then create some benign log entries to give the appearance of continuity and normalcy.
    2) Replace some programs – like the loging program – with specifically modified versions that don’t request logs and provide backdoors. These are called rootkits and they are available for most operating systems. They can reside on a system and provide a backdoor without anybody realizing it.
    3) Find a bug on the operating system or on a program and exploit it to gain access to the system.

    BV, I know you can thwart these and many other attacks. In modern day operating systems, you can monitor many more activities. You can turn on audits. But these will slow down the computer. And in telecom you are more concerned of the Calls/Transactions per Second capabilities of your systems than auditing file deletions.

    Also we should have some historical perspective to be more fair to the case. When did people became “security conscious”. The computer/internet security became a serious topic around 1999-2000. We are talking about events that took place around 2004-2005. That’s the 18th century in the history of internet and security. Now we are 2011, the 21th century. You can’t assess the data integrity according to tools and measures available now. Assuming that the telecom equipment provider upgraded or patched their system around 2002-2003, you think the mobile operator rushed to upgrade their equipment? I highly doubt that they did any security upgrade. And my scenario above how to bypass the security is based on the state back in 2004-2005.

    We can also talk about in general enterprise network security, which from what I have seen so far is mostly lax (specially internal security).
    But let’s not forget another aspect. If the data was tampered with, then it was done by professional hackers/crackers not script kiddies. If you want to know the limits of professional hacking, do a search for Stuxnet, the worm that appeared last year. And if you have some technical knowledge read the dissection. You will be amazed at what can be done.

    Posted by XP | August 19, 2011, 2:33 am
  94. XP,

    You’re speaking my language here (as I said, I deal with software, albeit not in telecom).

    Here’s a question that no one’s brought up yet, when talking about this technical stuff.

    When someone tampers with the system, through root access, as you said, replaces the logging program, or turns it off, or whatever. Wouldn’t that leave the system in such a state that it can be noticed later?

    What i mean as, presumably, the machines that were tampered with are still around somewhere (or should have been taken in as evidence by any self-respecting law enforcement agency).

    Couldn’t forensic experts look at the machine today – say – and see that the logging program is not the one that was originally installed on the machine? Or that the logging was turned off? Or whatever?

    The hacker would have to essentially put everything back the way it was (if that’s possible) to avoid detection. But since the spies were found out, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the compromised equipment was also found out and hopefully disconnected and taken in as evidence?

    What I am getting at is, if you’re the spy, and you put turn over control of a machine to some kind of shady character, who then proceeds to replace the logging program. Unless said character put everything back the way it was, and stopped accessing the system after 2005, the machine would still be running the “hacked” logging program to the day where the spy was found out.. And if I were the law enforcement agency who found out the spy, I would make sure to take him down before he’s had a chance to turn the “spyware” off…etc.

    Obviously, we don’t know what’s really transpired in the case of the Alfa spy. But if there is some kinda evidence machine, that was confiscated, etc…that would make for a great piece of evidence, not only in trying the spy in question, but in bringing a compelling piece of defense to the Hariri/STL trial as well…

    Food for thought.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 2:53 am
  95. A few more technical points (that may bore most).
    But typically relational databases and other such systems are not stored in one place only. Routine backups are made (daily, sometimes hourly). Often times, the database is clustered on multiple machines, or has redundancy systems in place (critical for any self-respecting real-world application).
    This would mean that Someone tampering with the system would have tremendous knowledge and familiarity, not only with the system itself, but with all its procedures (where and when are backups made, what various servers hold the data, often not in the same physical location, etc)
    This takes time. Such an operation would have to be planned over a period of years, not months or days. Someone would have to look into the system and reverse engineer it (while staying hidden) for months before being 100% certain that they would access every backup and every mirror to hide their traces.
    The hacker in question would have to not only edit the current set of data, but also all backups (which may not be stored at the same site or even be online, as backups are often stored on tape and taken off-site to secure locations) and all mirrored instances of the database. Etc.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done. I don’t know enough about hackers. But I can assure you guys who think this is simply a matter of logging into the system and changing a few text files…that it’s not that simple.

    Something like this would require several years in reverse engineering, access to more than one site, and a fairly complex number of actions (any of which may leave some kind of fingerprint or trace).

    As I said before…while tampering with a system may not be too difficult, doing so without being detected or leaving any trace after the crime has been committed is a whole different matter. The degree of sophistication of cyber forensics these days is simply amazing. And I’d like to think that SOME kind of trace of tampering could be found SOMEWHERE.
    Committing a crime (any crime) is one thing. Doing so without leaving a trace (the infamous “perfect crime”) is near impossible.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 3:03 am
  96. Let me get this straight, with your help. It’s early morning here in the ME and my braincells might still be dormant.

    Let’s assume the data is falsified. Regarding the people accused, it leaves two options:

    1. The 4 suspects were not at the places indicated by the call towers. They didn’t make those calls. They weren’t even there to begin with.

    2. The 4 suspects were at the places indicated. Hence, they were most likely monitoring Hariri’s movements. BUT they did not make the calls attributed to them. Somebody is framing them.

    Now, the 1st alternative should be quite easy to ascertain, no? If they indeed were not even in the vicinity they can, I would think, easily claim this and back this up.

    Now the 2nd alternative is that they indeed were monitoring Hariri. But the phone calls have been attributed falsely. They were merely using their private phones the whole time. If they indeed were using work-phones as well this has either not been detected, or the records of those calls were tampered with (leading to PARTS of the infictment as we know it) or the records still exist
    but the prosecutor chose to ignore those calls in favor if the ones presented in the indictment.

    Any other alternative that I missed?

    I wrote PARTS of the infictment within brackets above as falsified data would disprove most of the indictment, but not all.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 19, 2011, 3:27 am
  97. BV,

    I don’t dispute what your saying. Your claims are valid. Of course forensics can detect most crimes in computer and internet. And I know it is extremely difficult to hack a system and never leave a trace. Just a simple example: as you know deleting a file won’t remove it from the disk. It is very easy to reconstruct it. Modern forensics has much more sophisticated tools to detect crimes.

    And I understand the complexity of any given telecom operations. Pulling off an attack on this scale is extremely difficult. Also we don’t know exactly know what type of data the prosecution is basing its assessment upon. As we don’t know the procedures of the mobile operator. So any talk here won’t exceed the limitations of an assumption.

    But there is a time gap that’s disturbing. When was the spy caught? I am not sure of the date: 2-3 years after the incident? That’s a very long time in a computer’s lifetime. Logs are rarely held that long. And let’s assume during that period a complete system upgrade was performed or the database system was patched. Can we talk about preserving the state of the computer after that? Hardly. (Of course here you will raise the issue of the backups: but did they have system backup or only data backup. Again we don’t know the procedures).

    And pls note that these questions make the defense’s position really tough if they question (and most probably they will) the integrity of the data.

    I never claimed that the data was tampered with or not (that would be a political statement that I have not done so far). I raised the issue as a possibility from a technical perspective.

    Posted by XP | August 19, 2011, 3:48 am
  98. XP,

    Chill dude. I don’t have time to read your technical analysis. BV, I guess speaks your language and responded. My point was and is; which you tried to evade…IF IT IS SO DAMNED EASY TO FORGE OR CHANGE OR MANUFACTURE THE RECORDS….Why don’t the HA folk just hire you or an expert like you to present it in court and make Swiss cheese of the prosecutions evidence.

    However; the HA/Syria/Iran brain thrust know real well that there are so many corroborating evidence. IT is a DUCK dude!! The Supreme leader ;Mr. nassrallah did declare in one of his “lectures/threats” that he had a counter intelligence unit tracking an ISRAELI spy during the time of the assassination and at the EXACT location of the explosion. So he laid out his ‘rationale” that his divine warriors were there by coincidence. That blows the assumption (evading tactic) by some of you that they could have been doing surveillance on Hariri.

    Now muddle all you want. I’d rather watch Perry Mason reruns…It is more informative LOL.

    Posted by danny | August 19, 2011, 7:09 am
  99. XP said:

    “Before you start tossing accusations around, read what people write. In my first post I said: “… proving that the data was forged is as difficult as proving it wasn’t (ok, maybe more difficult). ” The rest of your comments are not worth talking about. ”

    Where’s my accusations? You make it sound it rather pedestrian that data could be manufactured (“ok, maybe more difficult”). My point to you is; if you who I hope are as smart as anyone else in your industry; if you have it figured out on the QN pages in less than a New York minute…Why all the fuss? Now do you comprehend that? Or do you want some boost for your ego.

    Simple citizens like myself would wonder why all the panic by HA? Are we all wrong? It seems to me that your attempted analysis would have holes in it. My rationale is that HA/ Syria would have thought out the scenarios you laid out already dude and most likely their experts (I guess you were not consulted) must have told them technically they are in dire straits. Thus we hear just “I told you so’s” or Izraeel did it!!!

    Anyways; thank you for your efforts and attempt in providing a possible scenario.

    Posted by danny | August 19, 2011, 7:50 am
  100. Pas Cool #96

    It is also possible that co-incidentally they were all in the areas the report says they were in, and that they were not monitoring Hariri. Just a purely co-incidental set of calls that timed perfectly.

    Not very likely, but not impossible either.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 7:59 am
  101. The discussion between Bad Vilbel and XP is extremely interesting. Let me thank both of them for sharing their technical insight.

    Let me add two observations.

    -The first is that if the data records were faked in order to support an accusation against Hezbollah members, and if it happens that the prosecutor was able to prove that a certain Hezbollah member was at the place specified by his supposed phone location through other means (for instance, camera surveillance) at one single place or a few places, that would mean that the fakers, in order to fake the data in a credible manner, would have to know the whereabouts of this Hezb member continuously, to avoid inducing a discontinuity between the time intervals where the data reported is correct, and where the data reported is fake. In other words, to avoid having the person in Tripoli at 10:00 AM and in Beirut at 10:15 AM. Also the fakers must know in advance that the accused won’t be able to prove they were not at their supposed phone location at any time where they were allegedly watching Hariri. To avoid the likelihood of the defendants being able to exhibit such a proof, one would have to wait years, and thus the fakers must have known in advance (even before the assassination), that there was a strong likelihood that a tribunal presumably hostile to the defendants would look into the evidence a period of several years after the event, and not before. Also, telecom evidence is probably not limited to those four people, and the work of the fakers becomes harder as they have to track a larger number of people, maintain the geographical continuity of their phone records between their true locations and fake locations, and make sure none of them can be seen or recorded at a public place while the system reports them to be in a fake location.

    -The second is that even if it is proven that data has been altered in the database in some way not related to geographical information, or if the CDR maintain their consistency after an incident where an attacker gained some high privileges during a certain time period, the evidence would not be substantially weakened, because the main obstacle to faking records is not the system security but the need to maintain consistency. In other words, the fact that a script kiddie may have stolen a password and gained privileged access during a certain time, if that happened, does not destroy the case.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | August 19, 2011, 8:01 am
  102. Danny,
    thanks for the reply(s). Once again you proved that you have not read or understood what I said; maybe in the last phrase you came close to.

    Anyhow it’s not important. The important thing is to stay civilized and try to keep sarcastic comments and peoples’ egos out of the discussion.

    Posted by XP | August 19, 2011, 8:12 am
  103. Redleb#63

    (PS second link is dead). The first link talks about Tareq, gives a bit of his background and some of his travels to meet various individuals and instructions he got from them.

    There is nothing I read in those reports relating to forging telecom data.

    Some points

    1) There must be more to the story than a lowly under-40 engineer.

    2) Is it just Al-Akhbar that carried this story? Now that I know the chaps name I can do a little more internet searching. Do you know the names of all those arrested?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 8:22 am
  104. Gabriel, I don’t hold that as plausible either.

    And if they indeed were framed, whoever framed them would not have been so stupid as to frame people who were not even within proximity of Hariri.

    So that leaves that these suspects very likely did monitor Hariri. And if it is like for instance Mehdi says (I think it was him) that they monitor more or less all prominent figures then similiar kind of phone networks should monitor Miqati and Sleiman of today and many others of yesterday. I think you Gabriel mentioned this as well.

    I think this indictment paints a pretty clear picture and I think Hizbollah knows it. They feel the heat. Whether or not this will hold in court is of course still up for grabs as the judges will have to be persuaded beyond any reasonable doubt. But there will be more indictments, more information and not to mention Q&A sessions in court.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 19, 2011, 8:44 am
  105. Gabriel #100

    That is indeed possible. But it is also possible to get a numerical bound on this probability: The colocations were identified using a computer program that probably used some kind of threshold beyond which it would consider the number of coincidences to be too large to be random. If the same program, when fed the data, of, say, call data in Paris, identifies, says 10000 pairs of co-located phones, and after taking a random sample of 200 of these pairs, further investigation determines that those are either people who have two phone lines, or spouses on their honeymoon, or private detectives following people, and none of these 200 associations is due to random chance, then it would not be easy to dismiss the association in the Hariri case as due to chance, especially when you pair that with the closed network that stopped operating just after Hariri died.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | August 19, 2011, 8:51 am
  106. Another dimension…. The money trail.

    If someone put false data records, should the accounting not work out?

    Alfa receives $X of revenue from phone cards. Y calls were made that should cost $X.

    If there are all sorts of false records introduced into the database, those calls were obviously not paid for.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 9:47 am
  107. Redleb..

    Sorry, continuing on the point above.

    Here’s what I got from this article.

    1) Tareq is a communications engineer. Graduated from LAU(?), been working with Alfa since the 90s.

    2) At some point he got into contact with some fellows, and started making frequent trips to various European cities, and came back with large sums of money ($10k).

    3) He was asked to provide the names of all employees of Alfa, which he duly did.

    4) He was asked to install some (snooping?) tower in some building in Mar Takla. He didn’t do that.

    5) He had some equipment his “contacts” gave him. He destroyed the equipment.

    6) And perhaps most interestingly, is the reference to Alcatel equipment, where he was pushed to select Alcatel equipment over other Chinese equipment.

    7) The people he met with in Europe are allegedly Mossad.

    Did I miss anything?

    My first question is: How does Al-Akhbar (or the investigation agencies) know that the contact, Leonel, is Mossad? Did Israel confirm this story and confirm that this chap is in fact Mossad? Or are we assuming that he is Mossad just because Tareq said he was? What if the agent lied to Tareq to throw off a trail?

    The second question is: What equipment is Alfa and other telecom companies using today. Is it the apparently horrible Alcatel equipment? Have there been any engineers in Lebanon commissioned to study said Alcatel equipment to determine how exactly they have been compromised, and if in fact the compromise can be used to alter/falsify data records?

    The third question is: In what planet am I supposed to believe (or is a Mossad agent expected to trust) that Tareq can in fact pull off putting a snooping tower in a building and connecting it to the main network without someone getting to know about it. Tareq cannot possibly have single-handedly pulled this off without some very-high-up-support.

    The fourth question is: Suppose there is credibility to any of this, is it not possible the story is simply one of Alcatel paying Tareq under the table so that he buys their equipment rather than the Chinese equipment?

    The fifth question is: Since Lebanon is clearly and obviously concerned about “Security” of its networks, what measures have Nahhas and others in the telecom field taken o ensure that future equipment they may buy from Alcatel, a chinese company, or any other organization will not also turn out to be compromised.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 10:01 am
  108. Interesting article by Blandford with this nice nugget that I completely missed when I read the indictment:

    The cellphone evidence does beg a question, however. The indictment acknowledges that the conspirators were aware that the locations of mobile phones can be traced — that’s why, it argues, they sought to disguise their tracks by activating the “red network” in a stronghold of Sunni Islamists in north Lebanon where few Shi’ites are found. But if they were that diabolically clever, it’s puzzling that the conspirators would use their carefully camouflaged “red network” phones while also carrying not only other operational color-coded phones, but even their personal cellphones which can still be traced even when not being used.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2089420,00.html#ixzz1VU5ukAoR

    Posted by RedLeb | August 19, 2011, 10:21 am
  109. Gabriel,

    Sorry about the second link. The correct one is:

    Click to access alakhbar20101223.pdf

    The two spies mentioned in the al akhbar links are Tareq Al Rab3a and Charbel Qazzi. They were reported on in the papers. The english papers don’t go into much detail, but the Lebanese arabic papers have a lot of detail.

    I’m not a telecom expert, but I assume a cell tower only knows about phones that use it to communicate. So an MTC tower would not know about alfa phones in the area, because they are not using it. If some of the phones are MTC phones, then there would be MTC data used in the indictment. It would actually be surprising if all the PMPs were using alfa (unless the Hizb has some corporate discount for its members).

    Interesting angle on the money trail issue. I wonder if the STL checked this to verify their data. However, if the data modification was restricted to changing the location of a phone, but not forging calls, this would not cause a money discrepancy. Alternatively, the forged calls may actually get charged to the phone as normal calls would. The user may or may not notice this.

    Of course Israel didn’t confirm they were Mossad agents. No state confirms its spying activities. It is entirely possible Tareq was lied to.

    And as I said before, none of the people arrested were accused of tampering with the data themselves. They were accused of providing access to the telecom infrastructure. This would allow the Israelis to login and tamper with software and configuration from outside Lebanon.

    I don’t know what equipment is in use today. I do know that Telecom Minister at the time ordered a review of all security procedures, equipment, and computer systems at both alfa and mtc. They announced (some) of the results in a press conference: basically that security standard were lax and that systems were compromised. They did say several problems and their resolution are classified and they won’t be publicly disclosed for security reasons.

    Posted by RedLeb | August 19, 2011, 10:46 am
  110. The above comments on the mobile network are interesting.

    It will be up to the defense to prove in court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that indeed sabotaging the mobile network was/is possible without leaving any trace, as SHN and others have claimed.

    Personally, I doubt it.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 19, 2011, 11:04 am
  111. I think an MTC tower should register an Alfa phone. (At least I’m pretty sure that’s how it works). Otherwise, I would not be able to use my Canadian phone with my Canadian SIM card when I travel.

    In fact, I am able to use it in Lebanon, the UAE, Europe.

    XP?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 11:09 am
  112. What seems to be totally disregarded in today’s news is Netanyahu’s response in Gaza to attacks that probably have been perpetrated by a small separatist Palestinian group.

    I guess next some separatist extremist Jew decides to shoot at or run over a Palestinian … the neighboring Arabs should bomb the infrastructure of Israel in retaliation.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 19, 2011, 11:24 am
  113. Redleb, possibly they never considered that their private and other work phones would be co-located with each other, giving them away. Done once or twice or thrice there would not be any reason for thinking they would be discovered. But in the indictment it is mentioned that, over time, there is a pattern. Also, overlooked in all our comments, it is mentioned that the four suspects were identified not based only on analysis of telecommunication data but also from witness testimonies.

    I’m curious how exact the approximate location is. The phone records show the ‘approximate’ location of a caller. We don’t know how exact this is but we can’t be speaking in terms of a kilometer’s radius. In the indictment the locations are quite exact.

    The other Time-article, linked from the one you provided Redleb, is an interview with one of the suspects, supposedly. He claims he wasn’t even in the vicinity. According to the indictment, the only one not in Beirut at the time of the assassination seems to be Badreddine. It’s not stated where he was, although I haven’t thouroughly studied the indictment.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 19, 2011, 11:35 am
  114. Pas Cool:

    I believe cell phone localization can go down to accuracies of around 50m, probably worse in suburban areas. But in Beirut, probably as good as that.

    Redleb:

    Re: Time article. We don’t know the full extent of the full records that were studied. Maybe all phones were not always collocated.

    Which begs the question, were they ever in different locations?

    Obviously that cannot be true, otherwise, the data would not be consistent.

    But if the accused did “turn off their phones”, and pull off the SIM card and batteries, as the author seems to suggest, then the phones would conveniently disappear from the radar screen, and one would suspect that they would disappear conveniently when the Red Phones and other operational phones were in service.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 11:53 am
  115. The more I think about it, Blanford’s scenario is completely impossible.

    As long as one of the following is true:
    1) Different color phones are always together OR
    2) Different color phones are not always Operational together

    then it is clear that those phones are most probably in fact always together.

    The only way this theory does not hold true is if Red Phone 1, associated with Blue Phone 1 and Green Phone 1, under typical scenarios, in a statistically demonstrable fashion was in fact turned on in different locations from its associated Green/Blue/whatever phone. But that necessarily means there is no correlation between the phones hence destroying the prosecution’s case.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 12:01 pm
  116. For that matter, if they were aware that the phones could be traced, why did they use phones at all? Why not walkie talkies?

    FYI: I’m going to be traveling for the next several hours. Please behave yourselves.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 19, 2011, 12:13 pm
  117. I am not a telecom expert but I know enough about IT to know that it would be very difficult to make so many changes without being caught.
    1) For sure the data was backed up and also stored off site. So, changes would have been needed to be made in all the backups.
    2) All commercial databases have logs of changes. So one would have to make changes and then erase the fact that these changes were made but that means making changes in the database of changes and then erasing those and so on. In short, un-monitored tampering is difficult even if one has administration privileges. Not to mention, that one would also have to repeat this process with all backups.
    3) There are so many side effects of changing logs. One would have to change the monetary database as someone mentioned. If a call is made from one provider to another, the log of the other provider needs to be altered also. One would have to change the actual bills sent to the people whose call log was altered. But these people have those on paper, so how does one do that? And there are probably more side effects I am not thinking of.

    Posted by AIG | August 19, 2011, 12:52 pm
  118. Just noticed that BV has already made the point about the backups, my apologies.

    Posted by AIG | August 19, 2011, 12:56 pm
  119. I’m gonna try and reply to some comments (and keep mine brief, as I’ve been a bit of a windbag lately)

    Pas Cool #82,

    Again, this is detective work. It’s done routinely in most criminal investigation (at least in self-respecting countries). It is called an Alibi. The defense team should be able to produce witnesses and testimony, refuting that the 4 suspects were in the locations ascribed to them by the phone records at a given time.
    The bottom line is, I am open to logical, rational explanations. The prosecution has made its case (and contrary to the irrational cries of “this is bullshit”, I think the indictment lays out a set of clear data). Now the defense can put holes in the prosecution’s argument. That’s the defense’s role. I see no problem with letting the justice system take its course.

    XP #97,

    Excellent points. I agree 100% with everything you said.
    And as you stated, we don’t really know what exactly has happened with the telecom data, or what the timeline was. And there’s that 2 year gap, etc.
    But again, putting my legal hat on for a second: All the defense has to do is prove “reasonable doubt”. Considering the circumstantial nature of the evidence, that shouldn’t be heard. They don’t have to produce the actual backups (let’s assume they’ve been long deleted). All they have to do is put forth enough expert testimony to say that:
    1- It is possible the telecom was hacked.
    2- The spies own trials/confessions cast doubt as to the authenticity of the phone records.
    3- It is in the realm of the POSSIBLE that the phone records are false and we can’t prove otherwise since the backups are deleted.
    Again, I think HA would be best served by mounting a legal defense, rather than bullying and posturing and expecting us to accept their version of events on Hassan Nassrallah’s pretty smile. Most normal people respond better to rational evidence/counter evidence, etc.

    Everyone else (too many to list).

    The witness question did come to my mind. One very easy way to prove or disprove the whereabouts of the suspects is eyewitnesses. The car dealer who sold the van should be able to identify if it was one of the suspects (or who) that bought the van, for example.
    CCTV may have captured the image of one or more of the suspects, with a timestamp. This could go either way. Basically, there could be footage showing one of the suspect in a store in Tyre on a date/time when he was allegedly monitoring Hariri in Beirut, for example. Providing an alibi.
    Or vice versa. Footage showing the suspect near the van, minutes before Hariri passed by, etc.
    There is a lot of police work that can be done here (and we don’t quite know if it was or wasn’t done, as that is not really mentioned in the indictment). But I would expect it was done (and should be in the 20,000 pages of the full indictment).

    As much as I am trying to play devil’s advocate here on the telecom matter (I really am keeping an open-mind), common sense still seems to lean towards believing that the 4 suspects are indeed involved in the assassination. Am I biased? Sure. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a personal opinion.
    I am trying to keep an open mind and discuss all possibilities in a rational fashion.
    But there are just too many weird coincidences and technical hurdles for this to be a frame-up. There are too many easy holes in the theories there. Somehow all the stars had to line up just perfectly for the Israeli intelligence to pull this off without leaving any trace, without a single eyewitness to provide the 4 suspects with an alibi over a period of 2-3 months. Short of believing the Jews really Gods favored people (and are thus embued with God-given magical powers), I cannot see how this could have been pulled off. Honestly.

    I mean, I am expected to believe that 3 months of co-located phone calls were faked without a single person being able to come forward and say “No. Actually, on that date, at 12:36pm, when the phone records show Ayyash near the St. George, he was actually with me and my wife, having dinner in Nabatieh. We even have some pictures on Facebook!”
    Every rational fiber in my body finds this a bit too far fetched.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 1:09 pm
  120. In other news:

    Residents in the town of Lassa prevented on Friday security forces from removing a construction violation belonging to Mohammed Daher al-Moqdad reported the National News Agency.

    Residents blocked road, preventing the security forces from reaching the property, and they then fired gun shots in the air to thwart them from entering the town.

    Mehdi? You around? How about that non-selective justice you were talking about?
    Nice to see the rule of law being respected in Lassa…
    Can we arrest and prosecute these guys immediately? Without “politicization” (isn’t that the complaint about the STL?)
    I don’t want to hear about how Bkirki phones Qabbalan or Berri and “agreed to resolve the matter”…THAT is politicization.
    People broke the law: arrest them. End of story.

    It’s funny to me how people complain that an indictment that lists phone numbers and draws conclusions is called “politicized”, but no one complains about politicization when every damn civil incident in Lebanon is resolved outside the legal system, by having leaders call each other on the phone…

    And you guys wonder why I am so disgusted and frustrated with Lebanon?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 1:20 pm
  121. How about the Antelias personal matter of two people from Dahiye who blew themselves up?

    I mean two people who have no connections in Antelas get blown up close(under) the Judge’s car….and they say it as a personal dispute.

    I guess it is customary for two people from Dahiye to carry and IED in their backpack to blow the other guy up. Off course all the time remembering that the target was a Judge’s car!

    Lebanese Judiciary and the amazing new Interior Minister at their best!

    Yes selective justice all right!!

    Posted by danny | August 19, 2011, 1:50 pm
  122. This indictment is not all-encompassing. The Fitzgerald Report, as well as other UNIIIC documents, allege criminal complicity or, at the very least, criminal negligence on the part of the Lebanese government in destroying evidence and tampering with the crime scene.

    If this is the case, then the Lebanese government either conspired with the perpetrators, or displayed gross incompetence. Even if one argued that the Lebanese investigators performed above the highest of international norms, why then do we not assume that then-Interior Minister Sleiman Franjieh’s report was accurate. Not even Nasrallah trusts it (although he seems to trust the current Minister’s two accounts of what transpired in a parking lot in Antelias).

    If it was conspiracy, then we must assume that Sleiman Franjieh, Mustafa Hamdan, etc. worked closely with the Israelis, the Syrians, Hezbollah, or all of the above to bury the physical evidence that could have incriminated the perpetrators (and which might not have required all sorts of evidence from telecommunications databases).

    If it was negligence, then then-Interior Minister Sleiman Franjieh, the ISF, Amn al Aam, Army Intelligence should be indicted for gross negligence, and we should not trust the ability of the Lebanese government to properly investigate and prosecute crimes. The people protecting these individuals have politicized the international investigation by protecting incompetent government bureaucrats who failed to do their jobs, thus creating an international incident that has led to violence and other miscarriages of justice in Lebanon for the last 6 years.

    RedLeb seems to think the ISF and Lebanese judiciary are competent and incorruptible enough to investigate spies and properly mete out justice, and that al-Akhbar will dispassionately report on the subject. Then, why not take Franjieh’s report at its word? Why not take Nasrallah’s Israel presentation as factually accurate, if merely circumstantial evidence?

    This technical discussion about evidence tampering and/or forgery and the need to discern the accuracy of a criminal narrative to determine culpability is a step in the right direction, partially thanks to the STL. This is not the discussion we were having when Franjieh investigated the crime scene.

    Posted by Charles | August 19, 2011, 2:46 pm
  123. I completely agree Charles.
    Good points you bring up. The incompetence or intentional cover-up by the Lebanese agencies themselves is something that hasn’t been discussed here very much. Excellent points about Frangieh’s report.
    And I agree that that incompetence and or active obstruction of justice should be investigated and prosecuted as well.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 2:56 pm
  124. According to SHN and his party … the only raison d’etre for Lebanese, and the state of Lebanon … is to purify the neighboring state of Palestine from Jews … and support the Assad familly in Syria.

    Is there any other reason SHN thinks the state of Lebanon and the Lebanese should exist?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 19, 2011, 3:05 pm
  125. Apart from Lebanese also fully supporting the Iranian clerical regime?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 19, 2011, 3:06 pm
  126. Gabriel #114:
    ” But that necessarily means there is no correlation between the phones hence destroying the prosecution’s case.”

    Absolutely. Actually, any kind of correlation that’s much larger than the one we could get by random chance would be a huge red flag. In other words, any of the following measures will be completely useless:

    1-Keep the personal phone at home and off when going to watch Hariri: doesn’t work, huge (albeit negative) correlation between the times the personal and the red phone are on.
    2-Keep the personal phone at home and on when going to watch Hariri:
    the personal phone is always at the same place when the other phone moves: correlation, and the two phones are next to each other when the work phone is turned off.
    3-Keep the personal phone at home, get someone to move it around when absent, go far from Beirut, turn the work phone on, go back to watch Hariri, go back far from Beirut, turn work phone off, go back home. Doesn’t work: the pattern of calls changes during absence, either he doesn’t answer his phone call or the other guy answers and tell the interlocutor that the requested person isn’t there

    The only real possible solution is to completely stop using his personal phone during long periods, say, six months off, and during the six months use only the red phones. Since he always might have to go on mission and he needs to communicate on a personal phone this choice isn’t practical

    QifaNabki #116:
    Walkie-talkies are much worse than cell phones. The Army, the police, most probably the foreign embassies, and I suppose, even powerful politicians have spectrum analyzers that will instantly identify illegal transmitters. You don’t have the right to just start transmitting over the airwaves on any frequency without getting permission to do so. The first thing that the Army will probably do when noticing an illegal transmission would be to record it, especially a voice transmission. If the transmission is encrypted and it’s not a Wi-Fi transmission, they will go completely berserk. And there were many areas that didn’t have a Wi-Fi hotspot. Besides, if you are in Tripoli and you want a transmitter that would reach Beirut, you would need a pretty powerful one, that would not be easy to carry and your transmission will be picked up by any receiver within a radius of several hundred kilometers.
    It is possible in principle to have transmitters that are stealthy using technologies such as spread spectrum transmission, but if these are used and a foreign intelligence agency with advanced technology is able to detect them, it will immediately mean that a major operation is under way, and that the attackers have access to high-grade military technology certainly not available to groups such as Fath el Islam, which would considerably narrow down the possibilities for the investigator.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | August 19, 2011, 3:16 pm
  127. Charles,

    Do you remember what the ISF and the Lebanese government were accused of doing? They are accused of putting truck parts in the blast crater to make it look like a suicide bombing, while ‘everyone knew’ it was a bomb planted under the street when ‘the government paved the roads two weeks previous’.

    So much for that accusation.

    In fact the ISF was starting to make headway in identifying the vehicle used and its origin, before certain politicians interfered claiming they should instead be investigating ‘the tunnel from the St. George to underneath the bomb site’.

    I know this because Al Akhbar published some of the preliminary investigation reports a while back.

    I don’t think the ISF is professional nor incorruptible. I’ve seen cops do some very nasty things and take bribes. But then that would be your problem. Because it seems the ISF is the one that performed the telecom analysis, and it doesn’t appear the magical western investigation teams added anything to that (except maybe color coding the words Red, Blue, and Yellow in the reports).

    Posted by RedLeb | August 19, 2011, 3:26 pm
  128. Aoun off course knows by far better … and the real scheme for Lebanon is a Sunni/Wahabi scheme that will have our women all dressing up in Burqas.

    ** Not the he would personally mind **

    Posted by R2D2 | August 19, 2011, 3:28 pm
  129. RedLeb,

    Interesting point. Again, more “politicizing” inside Lebanon (and people call the outside investigation politicized!).
    Nevertheless. Just like I tend to go with the more common sense view of things, and tend to view “over-the-top” conspiracy theories with a grain of salt, having the ISF (or whoever) dump truck parts in the crater seems a bit far fetched to me.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 5:04 pm
  130. Interesting development. Anyone else see this?

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=302797

    Suspect in Hariri murder speaks
    “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,” one of the four Hezbollah members accused of playing a role in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri told TIME magazine.

    According to the magazine’s website, a reporter found himself introduced to the accused during a recent conversation with a Hezbollah source.

    “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,” said the report that was published Thursday.

    The suspect also said that he was carrying out his military work the day Hariri was murdered but could not reveal where.

    However, he added: “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.”

    Interesting.
    Funny, cause we were just discussing earlier today how easy it would be to simply prove that one wasn’t in the area at the time ascribed to them by the phone records…

    This guy should simply step forward and share his proof instead of expecting us to take his word for it. Again, it’s pretty simple.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 5:36 pm
  131. BV, that’s what I was referring to when I said it might be Badreddine in the interview. He’s the only one who wasn’t there. Dunno if the entire interview is on NowLebanon as I in Syria don’t have access to that site. But you can read the whole interview by following Redleb’s link. It’s linked from there.

    Posted by Pas Cool | August 19, 2011, 5:52 pm
  132. RedLeb,

    That is not the only claim against the Karami government. I haven’t read the Fitzgerald Report in a while, but there are multiple accounts of gross negligence aside from filling the crater with water, removing vehicles, etc.

    Also, the vehicle was tracked down, which added credence to the Abu Adass claim. The Abu Adass theory has been abandoned for some reason, even by Nasrallah. I don’t know why the people who originally posited the theory stopped taking it seriously.

    Posted by Charles | August 19, 2011, 6:23 pm
  133. Indeed. I have never quite understood where the Abu Addas investigation lead.
    The STL indictment makes a link between the 4 suspects and Abu Addas via the phone networks. And claims 2 of the suspects were involved in dropping off the video (is there evidence to that claim? Were the suspects seen dropping off the video by witnesses? The indictment doesn’t elaborate much on that, at least not in the redacted public version).

    But that aside. Before the investigation made a phone connection between Abu Addas and the HA cell. Didn’t the investigation pursue the Abu Adass claim itself? On what grounds did they discount his video as a false? How do they know he wasn’t the driver of the van?
    No identification was ever made on the driver of the van.
    (And Abu Adass mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again. So he might very well be dead).

    So many unanswered questions.

    I’d love to see the WHOLE body of evidence that has been accumulated so far (Supposed to be 20,000 pages), and not just the summary. I have to assume that the conclusions that were arrived to in the public indictment can be backed up by some form of evidence, or else it wouldn’t hold in a court of law.

    The phone records (let’s assume for now that telecom was not falsified) show that the 4 suspects had contact with each other, monitored and shadowed Hariri, were involved with the Van purchase, and were suspiciously timed to be around the assassination.
    The phone records also show that the HA cell was in some kind of communication with Abu Adass.

    Aside from those “facts”, there are many conclusions in the indictment that are NOT backed up by evidence.
    – The whole story around the dropping of the video of Abu Adass’ confession. The indictment claims 2 of the suspects “dropped the video in person”…But no mention of witnesses who saw them, or CCTV footage or whatever.
    – The claim that the suspects made contact with Abu Adass at some mosque. Again. Is this a claim that can be backed up by eyewitness accounts? How did Bellmare discover these meetings?
    – The claim that the phones were topped off in Tripoli around the same time. and the claim that the Van was purchased in Tripoli at a certain location. All well and good. There are probably paper or electronic traces of these transactions. But how about eyewitness accounts? Typical police work involves taking a picture of a suspect to the car dealer and asking the old “Have you seen this man?” question…Was that done?

    I’d like to believe there are a lot more details in the 20,000 page version of the indictment and I wonder if we’ll be privvy to that stuff once the trial starts.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 6:50 pm
  134. BV,

    It does say there are eyewitness accounts. Now we don’t know what and where. I don’t think you expect them to reveal all the details in the indictment. If i am not wrong I remember that they did a DNA analysis of the suicide bomber’s remains as well…

    I am certain the police and investigative work was exhaustive and extensive. I can not buy into a simplistic view of Nassrallah saying:”Mossad did it and all evidence falsified”…. If that is so easy to disprove they would not be shitting their pants for six years now.

    If we were to follow the full chronology of events and HA & Syrian actions and reactions we can see a clear picture.

    Again I shall wait for the whole truth with corroborating evidence to be proven in the court of Law.

    Posted by danny | August 19, 2011, 7:45 pm
  135. BV #133

    They know that Abou Adass is not the driver of the van from isotope analysis and probably DNA analysis. I remember in one of the Brammertz reports, they said they found a non-Lebanese tooth from isotope analysis (it was a tooth from one of the countries of the region, but not a Lebanese one nor the one of a person that lived in Lebanon. Dare I say not Phoenician ? 🙂

    Concerning the fact that the purchase of the van was “traceable” and left by the assassins for the investigators to discover: Well in that case one cannot have excessive praise for the diligence of the investigators that preceded Bellemare, because in Brammertz’s report for example they were still saying they were not able to know how the van entered Lebanon, and they said it was stolen in Japan then sent to the UAE and then somehow smuggled into Lebanon. If the sale of the van was a hint left on purpose, the assassins would do better to leave post-it notes next time.

    Concerning the Abu Adas story, I don’t know whether the call to Al-Jazeera was recorded. If it was, all what one has to do is obtain a voice sample from the guy who did the call, (I think it was Sabra according to the indictment) and compare it to the voice of the call. Perhaps they also have CCTV footage. I doubt they have witness testimony, by the time they got to Sabra, any witness would have probably forgotten whether he saw a certain face. I assume from the previous reports that at least in Brammertz’s time Sabra’s identity had not been discovered yet.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | August 19, 2011, 7:51 pm
  136. Danny,

    I certainly am not willing to explain it all based on faith, ala Nassrallah. I don’t operate that way.
    But as I said before, I am playing devil’s advocate and willing to keep an open mind as long we talk about actual investigative facts (what can be proven or disproven).

    The indictment does mention eyewitnesses, which is why I am inclined to believe we’ll hear more on this at the trials. There has to be more than these phone records and there are still some holes to fill before one can paint a complete picture of what happened (speaking here from a purely forensic/investigation standpoint).

    Shiwad,

    Abu Adass is a Palestinian. So I don’t know about this whole non-Phoenician isotope thing. Point is though, the indictment itself (in its abriged form) does not explain how Abu Addass was discounted as a suspect. It only talks of a connection between him and the phones.

    As for the drop of the video. That one has me a bit puzzled.
    First off, for an operation that’s been planned so well. The very least you could do (if i was the planner) is not be seen anywhere near AlJazeera in person. I’d find a lackey who did not know me, have him hire a street urchin or somesuch to deliver the message to AlJazeera to come find a video hidden in a tree. I would certainly not show up in the vicinity in person.
    I was expecting the indictment to shed some light on that. But it didn’t. Again, gotta weight for the 20,000 page version or the trial.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 19, 2011, 8:11 pm
  137. BV

    Abu Adass is a Palestinian but he lived in Lebanon and according to the Brammertz report the tooth belonged to a man who entered Lebanon in the last three months of his life or so only, according to isotope analysis. Your point about the indictment not saying so is true, obviously, but we have a clue what the forensic evidence probably is.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | August 19, 2011, 8:21 pm
  138. BV,

    #137 already explained my point about abu adas. I do not want you to read tarot cards.:D
    I hope you did not expect the indictment to reveal all the documents???
    You did mention the 20,000 pages. I am just reiterating that I will wait for the trial for the rest of the evidence. Again; discounting the armchair Monday morning quarterbacks’ versions; I don’t think that forging or tampering of data is as simple or possible as some make it sound….Otherwise let them prove it. Very simple indeed.

    My point has always been that if someone is accused; then they can refute any allegations in the court with transparency. Simple. I am not accusing nor advocating.

    Posted by danny | August 19, 2011, 8:35 pm
  139. What I don’t get about Abu Addas is….

    Who is he?!?!

    Doesn’t he have a mother? A father? Siblings?

    How come no news agency went to where he allegedly lives in Lebanon to try and sneak some interview or another with a family member?

    It seems as though all he is is a moniker… sans identity!

    Posted by Gabriel | August 19, 2011, 9:03 pm
  140. Danny #138,
    Stick to your position and let those who enjoy playing the role of sleuthing indulge themselves.
    So much bandwidth, time ans effort has been spent on ; in my opinion; nonproductive efforts; and I have often participated in these.
    I am not suggesting that observers should not be curious about the proceedings but it seems to me that all what is being said is that the evidence could have been tampered with. There is nothing that makes this statement special since any evidence of any wrong doing anywhere in the world might be subject to tampering. That is why we have developed institutions and procedures to deal with these events.
    A crime is committed, , the prosecution attempts to build a case against a suspect. Once the prosecutor thinks that she has enough evidence then she goes to court with her case and the court will allow endictments to be issued once the court is satisfied that the case meets some minimum standards.
    The prosecution does not make public all the details of its evidence but enough to show that there is a case.
    Once the accused are apprehended and their lawyers get a chance to look over the case then a trial begins. It is up to the prosecutors to make the case stick and the defense to make it fall apart.
    It would behoove us to be respectful of the process, allow it to proceed, accept its conclusions and move on.If the defense is not satisfied with the process then it can appeal.
    The beauty of the rule of law is that all must agree to abide by the judicial judgement although some might not agree with it. That is the sign of political, social and judicial maturity.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 19, 2011, 10:00 pm
  141. Double Standard NewZ

    Lebanon prevents UN condemnation of terror attack…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4111245,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 19, 2011, 11:55 pm
  142. This may sound silly to many of you native Arabs, but is the guy’s name actually Abu Addas? I thought that was just a title, with Addas being the guys eldest son. Or are people actually named Abu out there??

    Posted by Nasser V | August 20, 2011, 1:43 am
  143. Ha and I see Gabriel is wondering some things very similar to me. Just read back, sorry

    Posted by Nasser V | August 20, 2011, 1:44 am
  144. The reason I brought up Abu Adass is because, as noted in the indictment, it adds to the claims that conspiracy was involved in the Hariri assassination. The perpetrators did try to blame the assassination on Abu Adass, and the Karami government went along with that assessment. Obviously, a group conspired to assassinate Hariri in a highly technical and hard to track way. What manifests an ever deeper conspiracy is the concerted effort to blame the crime on Abu Adass and Sunni extremists.

    1) The government could have been part of the conspiracy. 2) It might not have known about the crime, but taken orders from the conspirators. 3) It might have been entirely innocent (and possibly also assumed to be generally incompetent and easily manipulated by the conspirators), but pointed in the direction of Abu Adass. The misleading telephone shenanigans alluded to in the indictment might have been there just in case a Wissam Eid popped up along the way. Tracking the car might have been part of the plot to connect Abu Adass to the assassination and pin the blame on him.

    Regardless, the very existence of the Abu Adass narrative makes me assume some sort of higher level conspiracy is involved. That no one any longer supports the Abu Adass thesis (including those who initially postulated it) indicates that it has little merit (based on evidence to which I am not privy) and was likely invented to offer an easy explanation for a massive crime and misdirect an investigation.

    Posted by Charles | August 20, 2011, 3:13 am
  145. The Time interview is obviously a hoax.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 20, 2011, 8:13 am
  146. For sure, the legal requirements for “proof beyond reasonable doubt” set a standard for conviction that may not be met in the trials. However, the court of public opinion, for those objective enough to see things as they are, follows common sense and makes a definitive determination. OJ went free and perhaps is still searching for the “real killer,” although that’s kinda hard from behind the bars that destiny found a way to put him behind. The culprits in these crimes, individuals and organizations, are likely to suffer the same fate, sooner or later.
    While many other crimes have and continue to be committed in Lebanon and around the world, this Hariri assassination and the ones linked to it, before and after, has truly marked a turning point in Lebanese history. Historians, are predict, will categorize Lebanon history in a way that includes the “before” and “after” of that assassination. It is unique and it shall not dissipate as many hope and others think it will through lassitude. The silent majority worldwide which, in my opinion, holds this view, will eventually dominate the collective moral conscience of the country.
    We have seen dictators fall and be chased out of their country or put on trial — in cages!
    Fiat and fallacy do not forever last.
    The guilty have it coming, sooner or later.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 20, 2011, 8:21 am
  147. “I predict” instead of “are predict”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 20, 2011, 8:22 am
  148. Could someone address how Eid’s assassination fits into the evidence under discussion (or doesn’t)? Thanks.

    Posted by a_metonym | August 20, 2011, 9:40 am
  149. Like everyone else I have no clue who killed Hariri. That’s for the STL to find out and prove.

    What baffles me is that if the Israelis killed him, why would they go into the elaborate scheme of data tempering and use spies (snitches) to do so? They would have been better off doing it without planting any evidence and leave to the Lebanese to draw theories.

    Posted by IHTDA | August 20, 2011, 2:00 pm
  150. Because as you well know, everything the Zionists do in Lebanon is magically imbued and has no root in common sense. But we still all know they are responsible, for whatever nefarious reasons, that are beyond our comprehension as mere mortals that we are….

    Or we could use the brains God gave us.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 20, 2011, 3:00 pm
  151. This hilarious squirming of Nassrallah & its supporters remind me of the OJ simpson case. I know I have mentioned it before; but what the heck let me be redundant.

    I remember Shapiro & Cochran framing LAPD as bumbling fools who tainted evidence. Yet; they described them as a clever bunch who planted trails of blood & evidence in total secrecy…without any eyewitnesses or any evidence that they did it.

    Here’s HA (and its merry followers on WWW) insinuating that Mossad planted the evidence and framed the Shurafa of HA.
    They want you to believe that Mossad is ingenious enough to clone phones and go through the whole data forgery in a masterful job. They want you to believe that Mossad is in control of Lebanese telecom. They describe Mossad operatives as great and ingenious operators in the IT field….Yet; silly Mossad for leaving a few bumbling fools as “spies” in the telecom industry in Lebanon. How great yet how stupid eh?

    I know that judgment day is coming. Ask the past leaders of the infallible Soviet Union. HA is a minnow compared to that yet the little Chihuahua thinks it scares anyone. I would suggest Qassem & Nassrallah to consult with Bashar…

    Posted by danny | August 20, 2011, 4:08 pm
  152. AIG,

    Are you out there? I’d like to get your opinion on the Negev terrorist attack, the Egyptian apology and the escalation by Hamas.

    Not looking good IMHO, and Israel has nothing to apologize for. Once again, the Muslim world keeps looking for apologies every time terrorists strike.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2011, 4:55 pm
  153. AP,

    In times like these in which many Arabs are finding their voice and demanding their dignity from their own leaders instead of blaming Israel for their state, I prefer to stay quiet. It is a refreshing change that I hope will endure.

    As for the attack from the Sinai, it is nothing to be surprised about. Whenever an Arab regime or government weakens, it emboldens extremist militias to exploit that country to attack Israel, usually using funds and weapons obtained from Iran. If the Egyptians don’t get their act together, Israel will be forced to act in the Sinai and nobody wants or needs that. As for the apologies, the Egyptian government is trying to save face as expected and playing a populist card. It will take time, but they will learn that this strategy is counterproductive. After all, it just doesn’t solve the problem which is militias acting under the noses of Egyptian soldiers.

    What is happening is exactly the reason many in the Israeli security establishment are not happy with the Arab Spring. My view is that these short term problems are tolerable for the wider goal of giving democracy a chance in our neighboring states. And anyway, there is nothing much we can do about it. We will just have to see what the Syrians and Egyptians come up with and adjust to it. Let’s hope for working democracies but plan for islamist regimes and South Lebanon type scenarios.

    Posted by AIG | August 20, 2011, 6:47 pm
  154. Oy.

    I understand the “populist card”. The same card the Turks employed against the usual suspect.

    Looks like another wall will be built to insulate Israel from the terrorist drek. Once again Israel has to grovel to appease fanatics.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2011, 8:45 pm
  155. Isn’t it cheaper and safer for you guys over the fence to just move to the US?

    After all, you are the 51st state of the United States.

    You can always come and visit … and if you really like it, you could apply for Palestinian citizenship.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 20, 2011, 8:58 pm
  156. Hariri Jr. deserves to be called Sa’adoun for opening up his trap on the Time interview and falling for it.

    I even doubt that Hizballah was behind it.

    At best, some clever dude pulled the leg of the Time correspondent claiming that he would arrange an exclusive interview scoop with one of the suspects probably for a “small fee”. Alas, a name-sake carrying Lebanese shows up alone on a scooter showing the Time correspondent his ID that proves that his name is the same as one of the four accused and tells the interviewer that indeed “he” was somewhere else at the time of the incident and could prove it.

    Cleverly enough, that person agrees to be interviewed on the base that his name not be revealed so that the Hizb and the Lebanese authorities will have a more difficult time running a name check on the same Lebanese name carrying aliases.

    Did the interviewer mention that indeed the person in question even remotely resembled one of the accused widely circulated photos? Did he do his homework and affirm that the date of birth on the ID (also widely circulated) matched?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 20, 2011, 9:42 pm
  157. R2D2,

    It’s all relative. Maybe it would be cheaper and safer for Syrians to move to the US. They sure are dying prematurely at a higher rate.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 20, 2011, 10:06 pm
  158. R2D2,

    You are free to try to get us out of Israel, but please do not complain if it backfires and you do not like the results. One would think that reasonable people would stop beating their heads against the wall after the lessons of the last 60+ years, but I guess some people never learn.

    Posted by AIG | August 20, 2011, 10:18 pm
  159. R2D2 #155 says:

    “Hariri Jr. deserves to be called Sa’adoun for opening up his trap on the Time interview and falling for it. ”

    Are you sure that you are not committing the error that you are accusing Sa’ad Hariri of 🙂 So far Time magazine claims that the interview did take place and Lebanese speculators are suggesting that it is likely that the interview did take place with Mr. Hussein Al Oneissy.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 20, 2011, 11:37 pm
  160. What is juvenile and pathetic are March 14th statements on the subject. Here’s one example:

    “Future bloc MP Ghazi Youssef said on Sunday that Hezbollah intentionally gave the interview with TIME magazine in order to embarrass the government and covey a message that the decision is in its hands.”

    Really !?!

    Embarrass the Govt. it owns ?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 21, 2011, 5:28 am
  161. Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said on Sunday that the TIME magazine interview with one of the suspects indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) showed that the government is incapable of carrying out the international community’s demands.

    “[The interview] proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the government is incapable of meeting the international community’s demands regarding the STL,” he told LBC television, adding that “Hezbollah is defying the international community, the Lebanese people and the legal institutions and is saying that it can do whatever it wants.”

    ** Don’t these idiots see the contradiction in their own statements? Apparently Nasrallah wants to topple his own Govt. **

    Posted by R2D2 | August 21, 2011, 5:53 am
  162. R2D2′
    So the Time interview was conducted by a different staffer than Blanford, what does that prove? Blanford never claimed that he conducted the interview in his original dispatch. he used specifically the phrase “Time” conducted an interview.
    May I also suggest that the public conflict between the position that PM Mikati states on a daily bases and that of Hezbollah, regarding STL, is real. I wrote about the tower of Babel cabinet about a week ago. Does the incongruity prove that the interview took place? Of course not but it shows one more time that this cabinet just the last three cabinets has an unworkable structure and that if it is to function as a cohesive unit then the PM must be put in his place from the point of view of HA.
    This interview might still turn out to be a hoax but the possible conclusions that you are ridiculing are not that far fetched.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 21, 2011, 6:52 am
  163. I know. The scootering terrorist assassin interviewee was Abu Addas!

    {Gaby, AFAIK I haven’t a shred of Lebanese DNA…..I’m from California. Perhaps, tho, I was a Phoenician in a past life ;~}

    Posted by lally | August 21, 2011, 12:19 pm
  164. LoL Lally. You’re killing me. KILLING me.

    California? I’ve heard it said that Scots and Irish descended from the Phoenicians. Perhaps you don’t need to throw your Odds in with Re-incarnation :).

    And lest your background in closer to the Mexicans, you also never know. Arabs/Spaniards. It’s all one big melting pot.

    Now if you can only explain Afaik to me :). Are you saying…
    3feik… Good on you
    3fak… He forgave you
    afak… Your a$$

    🙂

    Posted by Gabriel | August 21, 2011, 12:53 pm
  165. Lebanese society isn’t confessional … it is downright racist.

    It’s not that religious belief is the problem … it’s the blood that runs in their veins that isn’t the same.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 21, 2011, 1:56 pm
  166. … or compatible!

    Posted by R2D2 | August 21, 2011, 1:57 pm
  167. AIG,

    What year do you predict the first Black Ethiopian Jewish Israeli Prime Minister will be elected to lead the Israeli cabinet in Israel?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 21, 2011, 3:09 pm
  168. R2D2,

    About 5 years and 4 months before the first Shia prime minister in Lebanon and right about the time a woman is elected President in the US.

    Posted by AIG | August 21, 2011, 6:14 pm
  169. Another rotten domino to fall in Lybia!

    Posted by 3issa | August 21, 2011, 7:59 pm
  170. 3issa;

    One more butcher down and people liberated. Next is Bashar then Lebanon. I hope the people of Lebanon unshackle themselves from the chains of the sectarian militias and purge the leadership and live their life the way they chose!

    bashar your days are so numbered! more power to the brave people of Syria!!
    Alex where art thou?

    Posted by danny | August 21, 2011, 9:45 pm
  171. R2D2,

    Is there a reason why you care about elections in Israel? Most of the ME still doesn’t have free elections, so you may find your energies better suited to helping your own people.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 21, 2011, 9:48 pm
  172. R2D2 – you continue to prove to be the worlds first living brain donor.

    Ak & AIG, i dont know why you bother responding to this Schmuck !

    Posted by Vulcan | August 21, 2011, 11:53 pm
  173. pathetic… Ja’fari trying to defend the indefensible

    Posted by 3issa | August 22, 2011, 7:54 am
  174. Greetings from Lebanon.

    I have nothing to report.

    Carry on.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 22, 2011, 11:25 am
  175. QN,

    Stay safe!

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 11:43 am
  176. Well, bye bye Ghaddafi. That makes 3 down…several more to go.

    Not sure what to make of this TIME interview. Except to say I don’t quite buy the hoax angle. Why would a fairly reputable international magazine get in the business of conspiracy theories and all that?
    Of course, as usual, in Lebanon, the least common sense explanation will be the one most believed: The Mossad owns TIME and sent one of its reporters to interview a Mossad operative, wearing a fake beard and eyelashes, and pretending to be a Hezbollah operative who denies being involved in Hezbollah operations…Makes perfect sense!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 12:39 pm
  177. Time article seems to be real. The reporter was duped as a continuing campaign of misinformation by HA since the assassination of Hariri. However for the timid reaction of the yellow-jackets it seems there is some validity to it. I believe it as Nassrallah himself proclaimed that these “shurafa” will not be handed over to anyone for 300 years!

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 1:09 pm
  178. ***oops It should read” The reporter could have been duped…”

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 1:10 pm
  179. Speaking of conspiracy theories, gotta say this op-ed kinda nails it.

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=303906

    it’s a disease. Or rather a security-blanket for atrophied minds. A true sign of intellectual atrophy. Sadly.

    No wonder it works so well in the Arab world, where intellectual growth has been stunted by decades of oppression and totalitarianism.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 1:14 pm
  180. Am I missing something? What’s the issue with the TIME magazine report?

    Posted by Gabriel | August 22, 2011, 1:40 pm
  181. Well, the issue seems to be that

    1) The government of Lebanon claims to be unable to find the 4 suspects. Yet this reporter found one in a matter of days, in plain sight.

    2) Said suspect boasted of being completely unconcerned by the rule of law, or the fact that there is an Interpol warrant for his arrest.

    3) Said suspect claimed the Lebanese govt. was not even trying to arrest him.

    4) A bunch of people took this to be a hoax meant to make the Lebanese govt look bad (as if it needs helps in that dept).

    5) A different bunch of people took this to be some kind of HA maneuver to make the STL look bad (again…doesnt need help in that dept)

    6) And lastly a bunch of people are trying to figure out a narrative where Israel can be blamed for the hoax, or interview, or something tangentially related to the affair.

    7) Oh yea. And politicians are, as usual, making completely idiotic statements regarding the matter.

    In other words. Business as usual.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 1:46 pm
  182. Gabriel

    If the anti shi3a racists on the net took the time to read anything other than Now Hariri and Al-Nahar they would tell you that the Time Magazine published an artivce By Nicholas Blanford where he claimed to have conducted an interview with one of the 4 suspects named by the tribunal.
    After that Annahar (that beacon of journalism) asserted to have credible information from reliable sources that said interview happened with a specific suspect (even naming him) in the presence of an English Arabic translator.
    Funny thing is Mr Blanford then went on LBC, NTV etc and denied having interviewed anybody but that he commented on a transcript of an interview that was conducted by an anonymous reporter with an anonymous person that an anonymous editor in the US provided him.
    Now taking into account that said reported (Blanford) published a book 4 years ago detailing from credible sources how Syria and the 4 generals assassinated Harriri and has been peddling it ever since it takes a special kind of people to take anything he says seriously
    However we are not dealing with serious people, what we are dealing is a bunch of irrational racists hungry for any confirmation that seems to give any credence to their warped beliefs.
    when the interview first appeared you should go back and read the comments wow it’s a bombshell.
    Yesterday when Blanford was denying the interview not one of them dared make any comments. They went underground trying to understand what was going on.
    Today after an editor of the time magazine just went back and said that the interview is real (we have to take their word for it) now they come back up and start saying as Danny :” the interview seems to be real”

    I guess that sums it up

    Posted by elsheikh | August 22, 2011, 2:22 pm
  183. I didn’t think those would be issues. For one, did anyone really actually think that the reason those people are not “arrested” is because the Lebanese government can’t find them?

    Obviously the circumstances surrounding this whole story are quite sensitive.

    Also re: whether or not the interview was authentic, there is nothing of value in the interview itself.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 22, 2011, 2:24 pm
  184. AIG,

    So around 2016-17 then?

    The effective prime minister of Lebanon currently “is” Shi’ite and the republicans seem to want to see a woman empowered in 2012.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 22, 2011, 2:30 pm
  185. Uhm ok.

    I recall posting a comment here about the interview before any of this crap surfaced and asking common sense questions regarding the subject.
    Guess that makes me a racist too…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 2:31 pm
  186. BV

    I am sorry but i was commenting on your latest post. you seem (correct me if i am wrong) to take the interview seriously. (specially Number 2 and 3)

    I have already explained my position regarding anybody who links to Now Hariri or Nahar/Naharnet. it seems you are guilty by association nothing more nothing less. Its the same principle used in the STL indictment. Those four did it because they could? and they knew how to, and seems they used car bombs before.

    After reading and rereading the published parts that is basically what the indictment came to isn’t it ?

    Posted by elsheikh | August 22, 2011, 2:40 pm
  187. Elsheikh;

    You are so paranoid and suffer from an inferiority complex. It seems you are a real racist….You call anyone who opposes the terrorist militia; HA; as anti Shi3a racists. You are totally absurd and blind dude.

    Please learn how to read lol. Here’s what I said.:”However for the timid reaction of the yellow-jackets it seems there is some validity to it. I believe it as Nassrallah himself proclaimed that these “shurafa” will not be handed over to anyone for 300 years!”

    Now go back to comprehension class and stop getting so irritable.

    Lakhayem

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 2:40 pm
  188. Danny

    who is getting irritable ? a racist usually uses derogatory language to encompass a whole group of people. You are proving my point when you call HA yellow Jackets or any other demeaning language. I did not call people names you did

    I am blind. coming from a person like you i’ll take that as a complement. If seeing means understanding the world like you do I ‘ll gladly prefer to be blind thank you very much.

    Can’t you argue with facts? you have to resort to name calling and personnal attacks? Ah i forget you probably studied under that great humanitarian GeaGea? I’ll excuse you and your warped logic you are just the outcome of the environment you grew up in.

    You have my sympathy

    Posted by elsheikh | August 22, 2011, 2:49 pm
  189. No sir. Someone asked what all the hubub was about, and so I listed the events (in all their comic grandeur).
    Go back to comment #130, and the ones that followed.

    I came across the interview story and simply found it interesting. This was BEFORE anyone brought up the fact that it may be a hoax and before I knew Blanford was the reporter in question.

    Having said that, I do find it odd that anyone (Blanford or whoever else) would make up a hoax interview with one of the actual suspects without expecting repercussions. As usual, the conspiracy theories seem a bit far fetched.
    It’d be different if Blanford or anyone else had mentioned “connected sources” (as journalists often do).

    Besides, I don’t quite see what perpetrating a hoax like this buys anyone. The M14 politicians claiming HA did this on purpose to make Mikati look bad sound kind of comical to me. Why would HA wanna do that to Mikati?
    That makes no sense.
    And if such an interview never happened, then what has Blanford or TIME (or anyone) accomplished by making up an interview? Making the Lebanese authorities seem stupid and incompetent? What does that benefit Blanford? Not to mention that the Lebanese authorities really don’t need any help looking hapless and incompetent.
    As usual, none of this adds up.
    That’s all I said.

    And if the interview really is true. Then my comment was that if this suspect could easily prove he was elsewhere during the Hariri assassination, then why not step up and show us that proof? Or do so in court?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 2:52 pm
  190. Are humans who breed animals racist?

    They inter-breed specific breeds of cows because they know results breeding them together will offer. They do the same with dogs for another array of “logical” (?) reasons.

    What and who is to say that humans are exempt of these selections they consciously make with animal and plant life?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 22, 2011, 3:02 pm
  191. Bv

    Than i misunderstood your comment and offer you my apology.

    as for this
    ” And if such an interview never happened, then what has Blanford or TIME (or anyone) accomplished by making up an interview? Making the Lebanese authorities seem stupid and incompetent? What does that benefit Blanford? ”

    Please try to look at it in a different way it’s not Blanford or the time that benefit. Media is being used to peddle a story.
    If you believed like i do that the entire STL is a blatant hoax being used for political purposes then you will understand its purpose.
    This is designed to reinforce the beliefs of those who are now wavering in their support. Remember since the indictment their has been no public reaction at all in the streets. How did that rally in downtown go on Friday ? anybody show up?

    The STL is coming up bland and with the so called revolution in Syria turning into an armed insurrection by a few and being brutally put down by assad you need to shore up your base. What better way than an interview with a HA suspect not only being arrogant but flaunting it in everybody’s face

    Posted by elsheikh | August 22, 2011, 3:05 pm
  192. Ya sheikh,

    Let me try to answer to you in a language that you might understand…?
    1. “a racist usually uses derogatory language to encompass a whole group of people. You are proving my point when you call HA yellow Jackets or any other demeaning language”

    A. HA is a terrorist entity who has been involved in numerous terrorist acts around the world. I will leave it up to you to google and find details. Start with Mughnieh and have fun. I will call HA terrorists…But I did not mention any sect! It is you my friend who is the racist. My comments are political…yours are sectarian!

    2. “If seeing means understanding the world like you do I ‘ll gladly prefer to be blind thank you very much. ”

    A. Right!

    3. “Can’t you argue with facts?”

    A. The problem is that you have rarely commented with references or facts. To you the divine terrorist party is beyond reproach. Although evidence mounts daily in their complicity in murders and total arrogance and disdain to the “state”; you parrot off the Qassem/Nassrallah line. So far your assertions and benign comments are just that.

    4. “Ah i forget you probably studied under that great humanitarian GeaGea? I’ll excuse you and your warped logic you are just the outcome of the environment you grew up in.”

    A. Ok. You people do know always the right path. Today; I take geagea over Nassrallah anytime. As for environment ya sheikh…I grew up in the rarefied clear and clean environment of the True North (If you know where that is)!

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 3:14 pm
  193. Danny

    I do not know where true north is so please enlighten us.

    1-So now HA is a terrorist organization. Fine so be it what can i say, if that is what you believe all i can do is pity you. Always remember that everyman’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Hitler called the french resistance terrorist: that did not make them so did it?
    The English called Washington and his troops terrorists that did not make them so did it?
    It comes down to the issue: is somebody allowed to fight an occupier? according to the UN yes they are, Now it seems you have been clamoring about UN this and UN that why are we not allowed to fight an occupying army?
    are the Palestinians terrorists? just because the oppose an occupying entity?

    2- Facts??? coming from somebody who is accepting as fact an interview by a ghost of a ghost relayed by a Ghost those facts are beyond my comprehension i admit. You seem to be on a higher plain of understanding.

    3- Keep GeaGea with my pleasure, Keep a leader who has not won a conflict in his life a leader who has rained destruction and mayhem on his own community and unlike Nassrallah a leader who is CONVICTED of murdering not only politicians but also political rivals and their families. That is if we forget about his valor in executing unarmed woman and children and military opponents during the civil war. Crimes that fell under the amnesty law if you remember. Geagea is doing what he does best leading his followers from failure to failure. Yeah i’l take Nasrallah with pleasure

    Posted by elsheikh | August 22, 2011, 3:39 pm
  194. Vulcan,

    Even though you honor me, I really am not the world’s first living brain donor?

    There are well many that offered theirs well and way before me. Just as I am sure there are many and well before you that resultantly made yours, your beliefs and understanding.

    Does that make me a racist?

    Posted by R2D2 | August 22, 2011, 3:44 pm
  195. Elsheikh,

    Firstly I apologize if I sounded condescending. I view everyone’s opinions as a reflection of their beliefs and/or circumstance.

    I will not continue this back and forth in respect of the readers of this blog.
    I don’t have to convince anyone about the terrorist militia that is HA. As for Geagea I did say “today”. As for your blurt about him…well let history be the judge. Don’t give me unsubstantiated stories about “trials” under Syrian hegemony that meant to punish one side. He is the only warlord that was incarcerated while all others: Berri, Aoun, Jumblat, Frangieh, Nassrallah among others roam free.

    It is my wish that all these cancers INCLUDING geagea are eradicated along with master destructor Nassrallah. I want to see Lebanon free of all these warlords and nonsense divine BS.

    I envision Lebanon with Charter of Freedoms and rights and non sectarian society with a constitution that protects all minorities. I am for dismantlement of all militias at the forefront being HA and all Palestinian hoodlums in the refugee camps and outside.

    I will accept any new government under the freedom of choice and vote without the coercion of the gun. I will accept any able person to be a president/PM or other based on their capability and conviction; not their sect; without the mafiosi guns being at the collective heads of all Lebanese.

    As for the True North…Well you have a lot to learn about the continent that has embraced you.

    Posted by danny | August 22, 2011, 4:32 pm
  196. ElSheikh,

    It is hard for me to imagine that the STL as a whole is a conspiracy/hoax, so I’ll be honest with you and say that I can’t relate to your point of view in the least.
    It is hard for me to think it plausible that hundreds or thousands of people that would have to be “in on the hoax” would be able to do so without inconsistencies come out, etc.
    Now, the “political” aspect of it. Fine. I think everything is “political” by the very fact that various nations and organizations are motivated by their own interests and that of their people first.
    Everything HA does is political, from their perspective. Everything the USA does is motivated by the USA’s national interests, etc.
    That does not wash away the fact that international law is international law.
    I’ve gone through great lengths to play devil’s advocate in this very thread (feel free to search for my comments), but from WITHING the legal system. The prosecution made a case, based on some evidence (that is circumstantial). That’s how legal systems work. Now the defense gets to shoot holes in said case also using facts, expert testimony, eyewitness testimony, etc.
    There is no reason that cannot be done. If Mr X can prove he was elsewhere, then why not do so?
    If the defense can cast doubt over the authenticity of the phone calls. or the evidence being falsified (they don’t even need to prove ti was falsified, just show that it is POSSIBLE), then that constitutes “reasonable doubt” and the prosecution will lose the case.
    Either way, let justice run its course.
    It doesn’t matter what the political motives were for having a trial. It’s the trial itself that counts.
    Instead, HA has chosen to take a rather confrontational approach. And I don’t think that helps them much in the long run. And worst of all, we are expected to believe Nassrallah’s word (but not much evidence). And my rational view of the world refuses to take someone’s word like that. Go through trial, bring forth witnesses, experts in telecom, etc. And then I have no problem with it.

    On the Blanford topic…I still don’t get it. So this guy faked an interview to push his book sales. Don’t you find that a bit extreme? Specially considering, if it is fake, he’d be found out in about 3 seconds? Wouldn’t it have been easier to say “my sources close to HA tell me that…” and still have gotten some publicity?
    That’s the part that doesn’t add up, for me.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 5:03 pm
  197. On a separate (yet somewhat related) matter.

    HA is congratulating the Libyan people on overthrowing the tyrant Ghaddafi.

    Ok. So they have a special hatred for Ghaddafi because of Imam Sadr. That much I get.
    But doesn’t ANYONE of their followers or sympathizers (ElSheikh) see the double standard / hypocrisy and irony in that?
    HA, champions of the oppressed, supporters of revolutions against Arab tyrants in Libya, Egypt and Bahrain, but defenders of Bashar Al Assad!?

    El Sheikh:
    This would be a perfect example of a group or nation acting in its own interests FIRST (politicizing) as opposed to doing what’s right.
    HA supports Bashar because the Syrian regime is one of their 2 main backers. Oppression of the Syrian people, etc. be damned.
    Not all that different from the hypocrisy the west shows when they support tyrants who are allied with them…I can’t imagine you don’t see that.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 22, 2011, 5:15 pm
  198. Elsheikh #186,

    You can only reduce the indictment to your reading of it if you willfully misread it by selecting the bits you thought were most sketchy and summarizing them in one sentence.

    It is very meaningful to establish that the indictees are persons who have the ability, the resources and the associations that would enable them to conduct such an operation. In other words, they are plausible culprits, which would not be the case if, say, they had accused a Chilean poet, an Afghan shepherd or even a Lebanese waiter. The paragraph you point to is in no way the heart of the indictment, but it is a small plank in building a complete case.

    Posted by Jonathan | August 23, 2011, 1:35 am
  199. I think those discussions on the TIME articles are quite irrelevant. I am not sure why people are focusing on irrelevant narratives.

    I would like to throw something out there that pertinent to the case and perhaps ties in with the Big Picture principles discussed previously.

    Right now, there really are only two possibilities that I think all participants in this forum have identified.

    (1) Hizballah is Guilty.

    (2) Hizballah is Not Guilty. Telecom Data has been Altered.

    I think people get quite emotional about this being about Hariri. Or people get upset that undue attention is given to this particular political murder.

    But step back, and let’s play a pretend game. Let us say that Hariri was still alive. None of the other figures were killed. Let’s pretend this were the case.

    a) Will those Israeli spies still not exist?

    b) Will Israel still not have the ability to manipulate and tamper with our data?

    The problem with the Narrative of (2) is that it puts the onus back on people like Nahhas to really give proper explanations as to what he has been doing in his tenure to resolve the problems a) and b). In a sense, he has shot himself in the foot.

    Does Nahhas fully understand how exactly the data was manipulated. I am not talking about news conferences where he talks about generalities. Points to a spy here, or a spy there. But a proper technical explanation that explains the mechanics of what happened.

    And if he does not understand where the failures are, how can he be entrusted to replace the existing system with a more robust and secure system?

    If a precedent is set in this case that this data is “Readily Alterable”, what does that imply for other potential criminal cases. Will telecom data never be admissable? Is it not important to quantify in a very rigorous manner the extent to which data is “Readily alterable”.

    Here I see people are getting distracted with discussions on what Blanford’s intent was on this article or that article. He’s a journalist. He may be biased. We’ve already poked holes through his logic. At the end of the day, he’s only given an opinion.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 23, 2011, 10:04 am

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