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Counter-Terrorism Officer Killed, Civilians Targeted in Hazmieh Car Bomb Hit

Retrieved from Naharnet on January 28, 2008

 A car bomb explosion on Friday killed Lebanon's active counter-terrorism police officer, Capt. Wissam

 Eid, near Beirut, claimed three other fatalities and wounded 38 people.

 The 10:00 a.m. blast on a road junction along the Hazmieh highway just east of the capital also

 demolished and damaged scores of cars, police reported.


 All the victims, except for Eid and his bodyguard -Sergeant Ousama Mireeb- were civilian motorists using

 the vital highway linking Beirut with eastern mountains.


 Eid, 31, a Sunni Muslim native of the northern town of Deir Ammar, headed the technical department

 at the police intelligence branch that was founded after the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri

 by a powerful bomb explosion.


 Police sources told Naharnet Eid was instrumental in the ongoing investigations into the serial killings

 that targeted anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon as well as the spate of bombings that targeted civilians in the

 past two years.


 The sources said Eid, a communications and computer engineer, played a "vital role" in dismantling

 terrorist networks involved in the Feb. 13 2007 twin bus bombings in Ein Alaq, east of Beirut, as well as

 the Fatah al-Islam terrorist network that fought the Lebanese Army in the northern Palestinian refugee

 camp of Nahr al-Bared.


 "He was a prime target for the terrorists and forces behind them," one ranking security source told

 Naharnet, noting that Eid survived a hand grenade attack at his residence in south Beirut in Feb. 2006

 and was wounded in north Lebanon while chasing terrorists last summer.


 The attack was the third attempt on officers of the police department's intelligence branch.


 Deputy head of the branch, Col. Samir Shehadeh, suffered major wounds in a roadside bomb attack

 against his car north of Sidon in Dec. 2006 and has immigrated to Canada.


 Eid was "one of the most important officers in the intelligence department," Interior Minister Hassan

 Sabaa said. "They (attackers) are trying to hit the backbone of the Lebanese state, which is security."


 Gen. Ashraf Rifi, head of the ISF, who went to inspect the blast scene, said the bombing was yet another

 attempt at destabilizing Lebanon as it grapples with its worst political crisis since the end of the civil war

 in 1990.


 "This is a message to the Internal Security Forces following the message sent to the army in December

 when Gen. Francois el-Hajj was killed in a car bomb," Rifi told reporters. "This will not deter us from our

 mission to protect the country and ensure security."


 The force of the blast ripped a crater in the asphalt two meters wide and a meter deep.


 Thick black smoke curled into the sky as flames engulfed cars, trapping several people. Another dozen

 vehicles were wrecked in a nearby lot.


 Firefighters battled to extinguish the fires as security forces cordoned off the area.


 Local residents and office workers, some screaming and others suffering from shock, could be seen

 running amongst the blazing vehicles searching for friends and loved ones.


 Police could be seen gathering body parts near the crater while within a 500-meter radius most of the

 glass windows were shattered.


 As news of the killing spread to Eid's hometown of Deir Ammar north of Tripoli, dozens of villagers

 burnt car tires and blocked the coastal highway linking Lebanon's second-largest city with the Syrian



 On Jan. 15, a U.S. embassy vehicle was targeted in a car bombing which killed three passersby.


 Lebanon has also been the scene of numerous bomb attacks in the past three years, targeting mainly anti

-Syrian personalities following the Hariri murder and drawing accusations of Syrian involvement.

 Damascus has denied any involvement.


 According to a former member of a U.N. commission probing Hariri's murder, Eid was close to the ex

-premier and had given the commission information about his murder. (Naharnet-AP-AFP)