The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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June 24, 2015

The Daily Star - STL hears about claim of responsibility for Hariri killing, June 24, 2015

Elise Knutsen

Less than an hour after the massive explosion that tore through the Beirut Marina killing Rafik Hariri and 21 others, an editor at Al- Jazeera’s Beirut office received a cryptic phone call from a man she did not know. Speaking in what she believed to be a feigned Lebanese accent, the man hurriedly began reading a declaration claiming responsibility for Hariri’s assassination.The editor testified before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday, telling the court about the cryptic phone call and the almost Hollywoodian events that unfolded later that afternoon in February 2005.

With her face obscured and her voice altered to conceal her identity from the public, the editor recalled the first phone call she received. The man on the other end of the line was speaking in “a high pitched tone and was tense,” the witness told the STL.

“My impression was that he was trying to speak with a Lebanese accent but it was very clear that he was not Lebanese.”

While he sounded like a native Arabic speaker, the editor testified that she was unable to determine the man’s nationality.

The caller “just asked me to get a piece of paper a pen and he started reading a statement in classic Arabic,” the editor told the court. “When I was unable to [keep up with his dictation], he started telling me, ‘If you’re not going to write quickly, I’m going to hang up.’”

The editor gave the phone to journalist Ghassan bin Jeddo, who was Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Lebanon at the time.

Not long after the first call, Al-Jazeera received a second call, ostensibly from the same individual. The editor picked up the phone and the man on the other end asked her to pass the phone to someone else and she once again passed the phone to bin Jeddo.

After hanging up, bin Jeddo told the editor that the caller had informed him of a VHS tape stashed in a tree in Downtown Beirut.

Another Al-Jazeera employee was dispatched to the site but found nothing. Soon after, the editor recalled that yet another Al-Jazeera employee went to the location described by the mysterious caller and returned to the Al-Jazeera offices with an envelope. A VHS tape was discovered inside.

After loading the VHS into a player, the editor was faced with a bearded man seated before an Islamic flag.

“Relying on God, we decided to hand the just punishment to the agent of [the Saudi] regime and its cheap tool in greater Syria ... Rafik Hariri ... through carrying out this martyrdom operation,” the man said, reading from a script.

The editor testified Tuesday that the script read by the man in the video was identical to the declaration the mysterious caller had begun dictating to her a few hours prior.

According to the prosecution, the video was part of an elaborate effort to throw Lebanese authorities off the scent of Hariri’s true killers. The claim of responsibility delivered to Al-Jazeera was completely fake, the prosecution claims.

The man in the video was ultimately identified as Ahmad Abu Adass, a Palestinian who had recently disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While he claimed in the video that he was the driver of the truck bomb, his parents later told U.N. investigators that Abu Adass had never before driven a vehicle. No trace of Abu Adass’ remains were discovered at the crime scene.

The court is scheduled to hear more testimony related to the delivery of the tape in the coming days and weeks.

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