Saturday, November 25, 2006

Brian Whitaker in the Guardian/ A smoking gun

A smoking gun

Brian Whitaker

November 24, 2006 05:30 PM

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/brian_whitaker/2006/11/why_shoot_gemayel.html

Amid all the comment on the assassination of Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel, one very obvious fact seems to have escaped everyone's attention: the fact that he was shot. I'm not sure how significant this may be but we ought, at least, to consider it.

Look at the pattern. Serge Brammertz, the Belgian prosecutor appointed by the UN to investigate the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri has also been looking into 14 other attacks which are probably related and have been widely blamed on Syria or its agents. Brammertz has now added the killing of Pierre Gemayel to his list, making 16 cases in total.

Spot the odd one out. Gemayel's killing was the only one that involved a gun. All the other attacks used explosives. In a report to the UN on June 10, Brammertz explained why, in his view, the first 15 cases were connected: there was linkage by motive and linkage by modus operandi.

Looking at the political background, it seems very likely that Gemayel's murder had a similar motive to all the rest. We can't be certain of that at present, however, because the Gemayel family, over the years, have made plenty of other enemies besides the Syrians.

The modus operandi is much more problematic. Gemayel was followed, his car was rammed, then he and his bodyguard were shot at close range, apparently with silenced guns. The killer, or killers, then vanished. In most countries we would assume it was a professional hit job.

It is reasonable to deduce from this that the attackers were not Syrians themselves but local people who knew the lie of the land and were confident of melting away once the job was done. This, of course, does not rule out a Syrian connection. But if Gemayel's assassination was linked to the other attacks and/or commissioned from Damascus, how can we explain the different modus operandi?

One possibility is that it was treated as an urgent job. Bombings and booby-trapped cars take a lot of planning and preparation. A shooting is quicker and simpler to organise. The risk of being caught in the act may be higher, but that can be dealt with by farming it out to a criminal gang (and presumably taking care to conceal the ultimate paymaster in the event that it goes wrong).

Another possibility is that the ongoing UN investigation prompted a change of methods. The original team responsible for earlier attacks may well have been shut down and dispersed as Brammertz follows their trail. The most recent progress report from Brammertz, last September, was generally dismissed as a damp squib - mainly because it did not contain any new or sensational revelations. But what his report did reveal was the painstaking nature of the investigation and its vast scale, including the analysis of millions of mobile phone calls.

On reading the report, anyone involved in the earlier attacks might easily have concluded they were too complex for safety, giving far too many clues away in the planning stages. A straightforward shooting (almost impossible in the case of a highly protected figure like Hariri but practicable in the case of Gemayel) might therefore be a wiser option. The conclusions that can be drawn are rather limited, but I think they are the following.

First, although the killing of Gemayel did not fit the usual pattern, that is not sufficient reason in itself to rule out a Syrian connection.

Second, we should not, at the same time, assume a Syrian connection, either. The different modus operandi means, at the very least, that other possibilities must be thoroughly explored by the UN investigators.

Finally, remember the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 which some instantly blamed on Islamists - though they turned out to have no part in it. If Syria is blamed prematurely for killing Gemayel but later cleared, you can bet your bottom dollar that Damascus will exploit it ruthlessly to cast doubt on the 15 other cases where the evidence, so far, is considerably more persuasive.

7 Comments:

Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

My memory of the Okla bombing is that Arab and Muslim states condemned it when it was clear that Islamists had not committed the act. Why they felt the need to condemn it - this was a domestic incident - was a puzzle.

The natural implication, then, was that if it had been carried out by an Islamist organization, the bombing would not have been condemned. There is a big jump from that speculation to saying, "some instantly blamed [the bombing] on Islamists".

7:27 AM  
Blogger chantix said...

Other than the anti-smoking medicine chantix, the quit smoking drug Zyban and a whole array of nicotine replacement therapies, namely, nicotine gum, patches, lozenges et al are also available in the market that help you to trigger off smoking cessation. But, significant Chantix facts present at the website http://www.chantixmagic.com make it apparent that in spite of the presence of all these anti-smoking therapies, Chantix still remains the most highly sought after quit smoking drug on account of the Chantix superb mechanism that helps you to get rid of nicotine addiction at ease.

6:33 AM  
Blogger luccy said...

Dieting and physical exercises can help you in shedding your weight to a certain extent but if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is 30 or exists above this value, you need to take extra measures for adequate relief from the shackles of obesity. However, Phentermine, Adipex etc are FDA approved diet pills that suppress your appetite effectively and assist you to lose weight once you fall in the grip of obesity. Phentermine should be administered only after getting hold of a Phentermine prescription from the doctor and for more details on the medicine, visit the website http://www.weight-loss-truths.com

7:18 AM  
Blogger chantix said...

you to buy chantix to quit the very dangerous 'nicotine' addiction by having the anti-smoking magic pill 'Chantix' which is Pfizer manufactured and approved by FDA on May 11,2006.For more sophisticated information about the side-effects of smoking and the treatment of it,Please logon to Chantix Online.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Agasi said...

Puffing away at the cigarette is always a pleasurable experience for all smoking addicts and the feeling of well-being provided by nicotine makes the users of cigarettes and other tobacco containing substances consistently addicted to the habit of smoking. But as the ill-effects of smoking show off slowly and gradually and a smoker becomes a victim to atherosclerosis, Buerger's Disease and a whole range of other smoking induced ailments, he fins no way out other than opting for the antismoking medicine Chantix. For more details on chantix, log in to the site http://www.chantixhome.com.

7:03 AM  
Blogger john said...

FDA approved chantix (latest smoking cessation pill) leads you to Smoking free healthy life. The Best possible way to quit smoking for clean and healthy world.

7:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home