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Lebanon former minister charged with Syrian bomb plot

The indictments, which also included two senior Syrian officials are an unprecented move against Lebanon's powerful neighbor whose occupation of the country ended in 2005.

Michel samahaEnlarge
Lebanese police arrested a former government minister for colluding with Syria to destabilize Lebanon. (YouTube/Screengrab)

Lebanese police have charged former minister Michel Samaha with a bomb plot organized by Syria.

The indictments, which also charged two senior Syrian officials, including General Ali Mamlouk, are an unprecented move against Lebanon's powerful neighbor whose occupation of the country ended in 2005.

According to Reuters, Lebanese authorities claimed that Samaha, a well-known Christian politician connected to the Assad regime, smuggled 24 explosive devices into Lebanon.

The explosives were to be used in Sunni majority areas of the country on the last day of Ramadan in order to sow sectarian violence - essentially exporting Syria's civil war to Lebanon.

Haaretz said that media reports from Lebanon suggest that Samaha confessed to the crime when confronted with hard evidence.

Evidence included nearly $200,000 in cash and a video shot by undercover Lebanese police that shows Samaha taking money from Gen. Mamlouk, and agreeing to the plot, said Ya Libnan.

The French foreign ministry has already voiced concerns over the alleged confessions of the former minister who has close ties with France.

Samaha was apparently a recipient of the French Legion d'Honneur in the 1990s for his services to the French secret service, reported the Daily Star.

The Syrian government has not commented on the case nor has Hezbollah.

Samaha is a staunch ally of the Syrian regime and has even acted as Syrian president Assad's advisor.

He was also featured in a list of pro-Syrian Lebanese officials who were sanctioned in 2007 by the US state department for “contributing to political and economic instability in Lebanon," reported Naharnet.

As in all affairs Middle Eastern, there are doubts about the plot, particularly speculation over who benefits from it and why Samaha would do it in the first place.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/lebanon/120813/lebanon-former-minister-charged-syrian-bomb-plot