Wissam al-Hassan

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Wissam al-Hassan
وسام الحسن
Born Wissam Adnan al-Hassan
(1965-04-11)11 April 1965
Btouratige, Koura District, Lebanon
Died 19 October 2012(2012-10-19) (aged 47)
Beirut, Lebanon
Cause of death
Assassinated
Nationality Lebanese
Occupation Chief of Information Branch
Employer Internal Security Forces
Religion Sunni Islam
Spouse(s) Anna al-Hassan
Children 2

Wissam Adnan al-Hassan (Arabic: وسام عدنان الحسنWisām ‘Adnān al-Ḥasan; 11 April 1965 – 19 October 2012) was a brigadier general at the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the head of its intelligence-oriented information branch. Seen as a leading Sunni figure in Lebanon, he was also a key player in the opposition March 14 alliance without having a political position.

Early life[edit]

Al-Hassan was born into a Sunni family in the northern Lebanese city of Btouratige, Koura District, Lebanon, on 11 April 1965.[1][2] However, the UN report cites his birth place as Tripoli.[3]

From 1992 to 1995 al-Hassan was official guard of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.[3] During this period, he was an internal security officer under Ali Al Hajj.[3] In 1995, he was appointed Hariri's chief of protocol and served in this post until 1998.[3] Then he was named as the head of the Hariri office (1998 - 2000).[3] He worked as Hariri's head guard detachment from June 2001 to Summer 2004,[4] and also, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in this period.[3] Then he began to work for Saad Hariri as head of his office from 2004 to January 2006, and resigned from the ISF during this period.[3]

Hariri assassination[edit]

Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive car bomb in Beirut on 14 February 2005. As Hariri's chief of protocol, al-Hassan would have normally been in the motorcade that was hit by the attack, but he had taken the day off to study for a university exam.[1][4][3]

In 2010, the U.N. investigators from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon suspected that al-Hassan was involved in the assassination of Hariri and recommended that he warranted a further detailed investigation,[3] since they considered his alibi to be "weak and inconsistent."[4] However, Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, said he had always had full confidence in al-Hassan. Al-Hassan was not among those indicted by the tribunal in January 2011. The tribunal's prosecutors are instead seeking the arrest of four members of the pro-Syrian Shia Muslim group Hezbollah.[1] Reportedly, the U.N. investigators decided not to proceed with investigations to al-Hassan's involvement for fear of damaging relations with the ISF.[4]

Head of information branch at ISF[edit]

Al-Hassan was named as the head of the information branch of the ISF on 19 January 2006,[3] and tasked with leading the investigation to Hariri's death.[4][5] Al-Hassan served under the ISF's director-general, Ashraf Rifi, who is one of the board members of the Prince Nayef University for Security Studies.[6] Al-Hassan achieved significant improvements in the capabilities of the information branch in terms of both domestic criminal matters and security issues.[7]

His intelligence unit was seen as being backed by the March 14 alliance, acting as a counterweight to the Lebanese Armed Forces's intelligence unit that is considered to have close links to Syria.[4] The members of his organization have been subject of repeated assassinations and assassination attempts. One of the information branch's tasks was dismantling the network of Israeli spies in Lebanon, and this led to the arrest of over 100 individuals suspected of collaborating with Israel.[5]

As the chief of the intelligence branch, al-Hassan was criticized by members of the March 8 Alliance for allegedly focusing his investigations on pro-Syrian figures and members of the March 8 Alliance. In August 2012, al-Hassan made headlines as the key player in an investigation that led to the arrest of former information minister Michel Samaha,[8] who was charged with transporting explosives into Lebanon with the help of the Syrian Security Chief Ali Mamlouk, in an alleged attempt to destabilize the country.[5][7] Al-Hassan had evidence of direct links between Samaha and senior Syrian political and intelligence aides, including top adviser to President Assad, Butheina Shaban.[9] Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel reported that al-Hassan was threatened in relation to the arrest of Samaha.[8] Colonel Imad Othman succeeded al-Hassan as the head of ISF's intelligence bureau on 21 October 2012.[10][11]

Political activities[edit]

Al-Hassan acted as a mediator between Saad Hariri and Hezbollah.[12] In addition, al-Hassan supported the Syrian opposition in the Syrian civil war. It is alleged that he facilitated the flow of money and arms from the Gulf states and the West to the Syrian opposition through Lebanon.[13] Although al-Hassan was not directly involved in operations, his actions permitted the smuggling of arms destined for opposition forces from Lebanon to Syria, provided a safe haven for Syrian defectors in Lebanon, and resulted in the Syrian opposition using bases in Lebanon as staging areas for attacks into Syria.[13]

Al-Hassan was named as a possible negotiation partner by the Free Syrian Army after the Syrian insurgency fighters kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi'a pilgrims in August.[4] Al-Hassan was considered an ally of the United States.[14]

Death and funeral[edit]

On 19 October 2012, al-Hassan died in a massive car bombing near the Achrafieh neighborhood of Beirut.[15] Seven other people including his driver also died and nearly eighty people were wounded in the huge blast.[9][16][17] Al-Hassan is believed to have been the target of the attack.[18] He returned to Beirut from abroad on 18 October 2012.[19]

A state funeral ceremony for him was organized in Beirut on 21 October with the attendance of significant political figures and thousands of people.[17][19] Lebanese president Michel Suleiman awarded al-Hassan the National Order of the Cedar in Grade of Grand Officer at the ceremony.[20] Al-Hassan was buried alongside former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a cemetery near the Mohammad Amin Mosque.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Al-Hassan was married to Anna al-Hassan and had two sons, Majd and Mazen.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Profile: Wissam al-Hassan". BBC News. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Follath, Erich (5 November 2012). "Was Murdered Intelligence Chief a Hero or Double Agent?". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Wissam Al Hassan". CBC. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Who Was Wissam Al-Hassan?". Al Akhbar. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Taylor, Alex (20 October 2012). "Hasan’s pivotal security role". The Daily Star. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  6. ^ AbuKhalil, Asad (13 August 2012). "The Michel Samaha Affair". Al Akhbar. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Radin, CD (21 October 2012). "Beirut car bomb kills anti-Syrian intelligence general". Long War Journal. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Charbel: Hassan threatened before revealing Samaha case". NOW Lebanon. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Al Sharif, Osama (24 October 2012). "Lebanon at the edge of precipice". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Imad Othman Succeeds Hasan as ISF Intelligence Bureau Head". Naharnet. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Salem, Paul (23 October 2012). "Lebanon’s Fragile Peace Will Hold Despite Blow". Carnegie Middle East. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Muhanna, Elias (22 October 2012). "The Many Faces of Wissam Al-Hassan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Stewart, Scott (15 November 2012). "Lebanon: Lessons from Two Assassinations". Stratfor: Global Intelligence (Austin, Texas). Archived from the original on 17 November 2012. 
  14. ^ In Beirut Blast, U.S. Loses a Top Ally The Wall Street Journal, 26 October 2012
  15. ^ Chulov, Martin (19 October 2012). "Lebanon's great divide exposed by assassination of security chief". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Protests in Lebanon follow murder of intelligence chief". Euronews. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c "Siniora demands Cabinet resign at Hasan's funeral in Beirut". The Daily Star (Beirut). 21 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Walsh, Nick Paton; Jamjoom, Mohammed and Sterling, Joe (19 October 2012). "Anti-Syrian official killed when car bomb rocks Beirut". CNN. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Nakhoul, Samia (22 October 2012). "Analysis: Killing of security chief raises fears for Lebanon". Reuters (Beirut). Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Suleiman Asks Govt. Not to Provide Cover for Criminals". Naharnet. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "Thousands gather for al-Hassan's funeral in Beirut". Ahram Online. AP. 21 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.