Samaha Reportedly Told Investigators ‘This is what Bashar Wants’

Ex-Minister Michel Samaha, who has admitted to involvement in a plot to carry out bombings in Lebanon, has reportedly told investigators that the order came straight from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published Friday, Samaha said: “The Syrian president wants this. This is what Bashar (Assad) wants.”

According to security sources, the former information minister said Syrian security official Ali Mamlouk had asked him to carry out the attacks.

The pro-Syrian regime official was arrested by the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch during an early Thursday morning raid on his house in the North Metn town of Jwar al-Khensahara.

Another team searched his home in Beirut’s Ashrafiyeh district. The ISF took several items, including CDs, computers and documents, from both houses.

The security sources said that Samaha admitted to transferring 2 to 20 kilograms of explosives in his car from Syria to Lebanon through the Masnaa border crossing to plant them in areas in the country’s North and mainly Akkar district in an attempt to ignite a Sunni-Alawite or Sunni-Christian strife.

The bomb attacks would have been carried out during a visit by Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to Akkar starting August 13, they said.

The bombings would also coincide with Ramadan Iftars attended by important personalities and symbols of the Syrian opposition in the North, the sources added.

Samaha’s bodyguard Ali Mallah, his chauffeur Fares Barakat and his secretary Gladys Awada were also briefly arrested for interrogation on Thursday.

Sources close to the investigation said a person from the Kfouri family was involved in the plot.

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