UN Finds Syria Responsible for Murder of Lebanese Prime Minister

The long-awaited United Nations report on the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri found that it was orchestrated and carried out at the highest levels of the Syrian government.

Brother-In-Law of Syrian Leader Implicated (AP)

The brother-in-law of Syria’s president was implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and Lebanese intelligence officials helped organize it, according to a U.N. inquiry that officially linked Damascus to the slaying for the first time.

The exhaustive report into the Feb. 14 car bomb that killed the popular opposition leader and 20 others stopped short of fingering Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle. But it accused the regime of failing to cooperate in the inquiry and alleged Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa lied in a letter to the investigating commission. It also cites one witness as saying Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, Syria’s military intelligence chief, set up a false confession to Hariri’s murder 15 days before it took place.

That Syria is responsible was presumed from the beginning. That the UN actually had the guts to issue such a direct finding, though, was not. It is virtually impossible to find direct proof that Assad ordered the assassination. Still, it is inconceivable that his intelligence chief and brother-in-law would have acted without his approval.

Correction: Last sentence rewritten to make my meaning more clear.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sammler says:

    Those of us who generally disdain the U.N. have to be able to explain why we like it in this instance. What part of the U.N. took this action?

  2. McGehee says:

    Still, no one should doubt that his intelligence chief and brother-in-law acted without his approval.

    That may be a stronger statement than you intended, or perhaps you wrote “doubt” when you meant something else.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Kevin: The sentence was too convoluted. I’ve rewritten it to clarify.

  4. RA says:

    Good for Bush. This is the first step in along dance that will end in cruise missles landing in Damascus for sending terrorists into Iraq.

  5. exdem13 says:

    That’s nice of them to recognize the truth & publicly state it (for once). Now that the UN has said Syria is guilty, what are they going to do about it?

  6. I’m fed up with all these self-proclaimed Lebanon “experts” avidly commenting excerpts from the Mehlis report as if it were some kind of exercise in exegesis.

    OK: some Marxist/Syrian “Mukhabarât” thugs might have contributed to the killing of one of their former proteges… and, after all, so what?

    Rafiq Hariri was a notorious Saudi-sponsored fraudster and embezzler who had stolen billions from the Lebanese government’s coffers with the complicity of resident Syrian Gen. Ghazi Canaan who skimmed his infamous “khamseen” percent commission for the big boys back in Damascus and Qardâha.

    Faux “sheikh” Hariri was most likely killed in a settling of accounts between rival Syrian mafia gangs: that type of crime happens every now and then in Palermo and in the south side of Chicago without eliciting the appointment of a German special prosecutor or impromptu meetings of the UN’s Security Council!

    Contrary to the tall tales peddled on Fox News, Future TV, Al-Nahar-al-Wahhabist and other Saudi and/or Hebrew controlled media outlets, “sheikh Rafiq” was no “disinterested defender of freedom”

    Actually, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Saddam’s Iraq and the French government were the only members of the international community who stood squarely on the side of Lebanon’s sovereignty while the country was being ripped/raped by Syria and Saudi Arabia: in those days, the White House courageously looked the other way while Syrian generals tortured at will from Beirut to Zahleh and “sheikh” Rafiq handed no-bid government contracts to his family’s construction firms and organized Oriental orgies cum crystal waterpipes and deluxe Lebanese sex slaves for his Saudi masters.