15 February 2006

On 14 February 2005, Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was murdered in broad daylight. He was driving his own armoured car, accompanied by Finance Minister Basil Flaiban when an unusually huge explosion destroyed his convoy. He died in the area of Beirut's seafront that he helped rebuild after a devastating war. It was Valentine's Day. He was on his way to his beloved wife, the gracious Nazek, when the forces of hatred killed him. His death unified the Lebanese in anger and revolt. The world responded with a unanimous Security Council resolution designating an Investigating team headed initially by German Judge Detter Mehlis. Two reports to the Council indicated several suspicions pointing to a group of Lebanese-Syrian security intelligence network, but no firm evidence. An investigation which should have unified the Lebanese and the diplomatic community seemed to divide them -- mainly due to leaked press reports and speculations. In December, Judge Mehlis resigned and Judge Brammerty took over. The seemingly discreet Belgian has not spoken yet. We hear that he will keep his arrows hidden until he is able to hit his targets. Let's wait and see. But not for too long.

This is not just a murder mystery. It is a brutal terrorist crime against a man of great distinction. Indeed it is a crime against a whole country, its sovereign integrity and its people. Rafik Hariri was a politician with supporters and adversaries. He took daily initiatives which drew supporters or provoked opponents. In his death, however, in the brutal criminal terrorist nature of his death, he became a martyr, a hero and a symbol. For the sake of Lebanese unity; for the sake of regional stability and for the sake of international security it is imperative to find out and point out the killers. Not only for his family and friends, but for all of us. French President Jacques Chirac spoke for all of us when, in a ceremony at the French Ministry of Finance issuing a special commemorative coin, he confirmed the world's determination to trace the instigators and hold them accountable. U.S. President George W. Bush spoke for all of us when he exceptionally received Saad Hariri in the White House recently to show compassion for the family and solidarity with Lebanon. The U.N. Security Council spoke for all of us when it called for a decisive conclusion of the investigation as it welcomed the appointment of a new judge.

There is no way out except in finding out the truth. Who killed Rafik Hariri? Who planned, who authorized and who executed? It's been one year. How much longer does the world have to wait?