Former Lebanese Minister of Information and close Al-Assad ally, Michel Samaha, is expected to be charged for involvement in terror plots, according to the Lebanese The Daily Star.
The two time minister, who was arrested by Lebanese Internal Security Forces last Thursday, was believed to be one of Al-Assad’s top advisors according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
According to Haaretz, Samaha, a Christian, was reportedly planning to blow up 24 explosive devices which he reportedly smuggled into Sunni-dominated northern Lebanon in his private car.
The Daily Star reported that the bombs were smuggled from Syria and were to be used in operations with cooperation from inside Syria, possibly in Akkar in Northern Lebanon.
Samaha’s arrest was ordered by Lebanon’s public prosecutor and was part of a widespread investigation into security threats in the country, The Daily Star said. He was arrested in his summer home along with three of his personal staff who were also detained. They were later released on bail, according to The Daily Star. His summer home and his house in Beirut were both searched for evidence.
The case, which has been transferred to a military tribunal Saturday, has sparked wide-spread controversy in the country. Samaha was also a close ally of the armed militant group Hezbollah which supports Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said in a meeting on Saturday that he finds the matter “horrific,” adding that he wants the law to take its full course, said the Lebanese state-run National News Agency.
Yet Mohammad Raad, a member of Hezbollah’s political party and a Member of Parliament said in response to Samaha’s arrest that Lebanon has experienced “security fabrications” before as well as judges with suspicious connections, The Daily Star reported. Analysts believe it is unlikely that Hezbollah will take action in response to the arrest of its ally however.
According to Haaretz, the March 14 Alliance believes that Assad and Samaha are trying to export the Syrian crisis into Lebanon.
Syria has a large influence on Lebanon, with Syrian troops occupying Lebanon for decades until the Cedar Revolution of 2005 demanded the Syrians leave. Today, Lebanese are polarised over Syrian influence, with the March 8 Alliance which includes Hezbollah very much grateful to Syria and its intervention and the March 14 alliance taking a strong anti-Syrian position.