Lebanon Intelligence Arrests Former Minister Over Suspected Bomb Plots

Former cabinet minister Michel Samaha is suspected of smuggling explosives, planning bomb attacks in Lebanon. Reports say Samaha confessed, points finger at Assad.

Lebanese intelligence recently arrested former cabinet minister Michel Samaha, a considered high-ranking official in the pro-Syrian camp in Lebanon, over suspicions that he planned bomb attacks targeting Lebanese opposition figures and Sunni population centers.

Media reports in Lebanon say that Samaha, a well-known Christian figure in the Lebanese political world, is very close to Syrian President Bashar Assad and is considered to be a one of his senior advisers. In the past, Samaha acted to reinstate Syria's relations with Western countries.

Samaha, the reports claim, was able to smuggle 24 powerful explosive devices using his private car. The plan was to set off the bombs in populated areas with a Sunni majority in northern Lebanon as well as in other regions of the country.

The daily A Safir reported that one plan was to initiate an explosion at an event marking the end of the Ramadan fast near the city of Tripoli, where top opposition officials were scheduled to attend.

A senior official in Lebanon's security establishment was quoted in the daily al-Joumhouria saying Samaha had confessed his crimes after he was confronted with hard evidence against him. Samaha claimed he was acting under Assad's orders.

Prior to his arrest, reports say, Samaha was under the surveillance of the Lebanese security forces for three weeks.

The Lebanese opposition, along with Saad Hariri's March 14 alliance, blamed Assad and Samaha of attempting to export the Syrian crisis into Lebanon in order to spread fear and terror in the country.

The pro-Syrian camp, including Hezbollah, claimed that Samaha's is a victim of a conspiracy hatched by anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon.

The arrest of Samaha has embarrassed Hezbollah and its allies, including the government and pro-Syrian premier Najib Mikati.

Justice Minister Shakib Qurbawi said that the investigation being conducted against Samaha is confidential any leak requires a thorough investigation; however he did not deny the reports.

At the same time, reports say the Syrian regime and the pro-Syrian camp in Lebanon are exerting heavy pressure on President Michel Suliman to order Samaha would be released. 

Lebanese policemen at home of former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha - Reuters - August 9, 2012.
Lebanese former cabinet minister Michel Samaha.