On February 14, 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated, when a car bomb exploded adjacent to his and his entourage’s convoy, as they drove near the St. George Hotel in Beirut. Following the assassination, United Nations officials launched an investigation to find the assassination perpetrators. Consequently, in January 2011, the International Court of Justice in Hague issued indictments and arrest warrants against four Hezbollah executives.
On June 28, 2020, some 15 years after the father’s assassination, reports began to surface, stating that his son, Saad al-Hariri, who recently served as the Lebanese Prime Minister, also faced the clear and present danger of physical harm to him and his entourage.
The al-Hadith and LBC channels, reported that two weeks ago, an explosion occurred a few hundred meters from Saad al-Hariri ‘s convoy (currently serving as Lebanon’s parliamentary opposition leader), while driving from the Lebanese Beqaa back to Beirut. The convoy continued on its way while the Lebanese security forces, after searching the blast zone, located missile remains. On June 29th the al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that the prevailing assessment among Lebanese security forces is that the missile in question was an anti-aircraft missile launched from the ground against an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) circling above the area unrelated to al-Hariri the son or his entourage. According to the above estimate, the launched missile did not hit the UAV, but its remains fell to the ground near Hariri’s convoy, causing the explosion in question.
Are the detailed findings published by the Lebanese security forces authentic or are they a cover-up of an unsuccessful assassination attempt meant to harm al-Hariri’s son?
Although al-Hariri the son is considered a bitter rival of Hezbollah and the event occurred in a region that is clearly controlled by Hezbollah, it is our assessment that the incident was not an assassination attempt on the life of al- Hariri’s son. We do not think that Hezbollah would choose the present timing to assassinate al-Hariri’s son since such an act would cause further extreme deterioration in the internal situation in Lebanon, a deterioration that at this time, is not in Hezbollah’s interest.
As for the operational aspect, based on our familiarity with Hezbollah’s operational capabilities, we estimate that if Hezbollah had wanted to execute an assassination against al-Hariri the son, would not execute it their own back a yard, (i.e. in the Lebanese Beqaa). It would be more likely that Hezbollah would execute such an act in a more “neutral” area, such as Beirut (much like the assassination of his father) and unfortunately, in that case, the attempt would not have failed…
It is also possible that the purpose of the blast near al-Hariri son’s convoy was a warning message sent in light of Lebanon’s internal situation. in our estimation the blast was an incident unrelated to al-Hariri the son, but rather an occurrence that took place in the wrong place and at the wrong time.