Syrian President Bashar Assad has hired hit squads to kill top Lebanese government, intelligence and security officials whom he suspects of helping insurrectionists and Saudi and Qatari agents smuggle fighters and weapons into the country to fight his regime. One Lebanese hit squad is reported by debkafile's counter-terror sources as having been captured in the third week of January by Lebanese security police. Its members confessed to receiving, cash, arms, explosives and a list of targets from Syrian Military intelligence, with precise instructions on the method of assassination for two targets, Director General of Lebanese Internal Security Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and his deputy, Col. Wissam al-Hassan, head of its Information Branch.
The team was instructed to rig two bomb cars, each loaded with one ton of explosives to be detonated remotely. They were told which cars would be driving by different routes to a secret meeting of all Lebanese intelligence arms at Internal Security headquarters in the Christian Ashrafieh district of Beirut. Two narrow side streets would bring them close to their destination and it was there that the bomb cars would be planted.
This was exactly the same method used to assassinate the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harirri in February 2005.
However, shortly before they set out for the staff meeting, a foreign clandestine agency warned the two Lebanese officers of the death trap awaiting them. The information, according to our sources, also covered the location of the bomb cars and the whereabouts of the hit team.
Saturday, Jan. 28, Gen. Rifi and Col. Al-Hassan attended a news conference at which Rifi revealed a plot to murder his deputy, without disclosing the identity of its instigator or that he himself had been targeted.
debkafile's sources in Beirut explain that he did not dare name the source of the plot or the results of his investigation because people in Lebanon live in extreme dread of the Assad regime's long arm and its propensities for violence.
But top Lebanese figures are now taking extra security measures to protect themselves and their families from ongoing Syrian assassination conspiracies.
And indeed, Friday, Feb. 3, Gen. Rifi warned Lebanese lawmaker Sami Gemayel, one of the leaders of the Christian Phalange Party, two of whose forbears, Pierre and Bashir, were assassinated, to take care because murderers were after him at Ain Safsaf in the Mattan Mountains.
The Lebanese intelligence chief did not dare reveal who was behind the plot. But our counter-terror sources report that the warning itself indicated that the Lebanese spy chief is on top of a flow of intelligence on the death list Bashar Assad has drawn up for Lebanon.