Western Intelligence Agencies Warned Lebanon's Hariri of Assassination Plot

Lebanese President Michel Aoun will not decide whether to accept or reject Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia

A banner of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon on November 5, 2017

Western intelligence agencies warned former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri of an assassination plot against him, the Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday. It cited unnamed sources close to Hariri. 

However, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon's General Security, said he had no information about an assassination plot against political figures in Lebanon. The army also said it had not uncovered any such plots. 

Asharq al-Awsat reported that the sources "revealed that he had received Western warnings of an assassination attempt that was prepared against him." It did not give further details of the alleged plot. 

Hariri announced his surprise resignation on Saturday, citing a plot to kill him, and saying the climate in Lebanon resembled that before the assassination of his father Rafik Hariri, who was also prime minister, in 2005. 

However, Lebanese President Michel Aoun will not decide whether to accept or reject the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri until Hariri returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, sources at the presidential palace said on Sunday. Hariri left Lebanon for Saudi Arabia on Friday and resigned on Saturday in a televised statement that took the Lebanese political establishment by surprise. 

There is no obvious successor to Hariri and by refusing to accept his resignation, Aoun is seen to be delaying political consultations on a new prime minister. 

In his resignation, Hariri criticized Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah for their role in Lebanon and other Arab countries. 

Asharq al-Awsat reported the same unnamed sources as speculating that Hariri would probably remain outside Lebanon because of the security threat against him. 

On Saturday, Saudi-owned television channel al-Arabiya al-Hadath, part of the same media group as Asharq al-Awsat, reported that an assassination plot against Hariri had been foiled in Beirut days earlier, citing an unnamed source. 

Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan said in a television interview that Hariri's personal security detail had "confirmed information" of a plot to kill him. 

Lebanon's internal security force said in a statement on the reports that it had no information about the matter.