Narrative of a Conspiracy, Part 2
Today’s excerpts come from the October 10th and the and the October 15th issues of Al-Akhbar.
FAISAL AKBAR’S TESTIMONY (CONT.)
MEETING AHMED ABU ADES IN DAMASCUS
Q: Tell us in detail all your observations and recollections since the first moment you received instructions to meet Ahmed Abu Ades until the last moment you saw Ahmed Abu Ades?
A: I hadn’t heard any information about Ahmed Abu Ades’ arrival to Syria until Tuesday, the date of which I don’t remember, actually I think it was 18/1/2005 and specifically in the evening, until Khalid al-Taha arrived in Damascus, to Merjeh Square, and I had received a phone call from Jamil on my mobile number that I don’t remember, whereby Jamil told me that Khalid al-Taha is due to arrive and he will discuss a certain topic with me which [Jamil] did not mention on the phone, which is what we do usually when calling each other. And verily, Khalid al-Taha got to Merjeh Square and I was waiting for him near the Victoria Cinema and the flyover.
Khalid arrived alone, and he greeted me, and told me that Jamil says that we are to receive a person coming from Lebanon the next day, and who I would have to administer to the security seminar that I give to the guys. We agreed to meet at noon on Wednesday, the next day, in Merjeh Square near the Khayyam Hotel. Then Khalid al-Taha left and I returned to my apartment in Damascus, in the Mezzeh neighborhood.
The next day, at [2:30 PM], I took a ‘service’ to [somewhere] near the Khayyam Hotel. I met Khalid there and he was wearing black jeans and a bright blue shirt. Me and Khalid conducted a surveillance check as we usually do when meeting in public streets, that is when meeting members of our group. At [3 PM], a Syrian taxi, it was yellow I think, and a compact make, stopped before it reached us, and two persons got out who approached us. I understood that the other person is the smuggler who transported Ahmed Abu Ades, and Khalid introduced me to the newcomer without giving his name, and that this is the person we are supposed to meet, and then the smuggler left us on foot. I should add that the smuggler did not get any money from us and neither I nor Khalid knew him and it is possible that Ahmed Abu Ades was the one who pointed us out to the smuggler because [Abu Ades] already knows Khalid al-Taha; Khalid told me that he was the one who had vouched for this person, that is Ahmed Abu Ades; the three of us took a Syrian Iranian-made Sapa taxi.
Me and Ahmed Abu Ades sat in the back, while Khalid sat in the front seat next to the driver, and we took this taxi without previously knowing the driver; we were in the car for about 15 minutes for the trip from Khayyam Hotel to the Rukn al-Din neighborhood. Khalid paid the taxi fare which was 35 Syrian Lira, and he was the one who gave the driver directions to the guest house. It was a white building, with an elevator, and the apartment was on the second floor, and it was the first time that I had been taken to this guest house. We got to the door of the guest house, that had a wooden door white in color, Khalid rang the bell, and the door was opened to us by he who is known as Shakir, and I knew Shakir from before since he was the one who rented apartments for us and managed the guest houses.
We entered the apartment which consists of three rooms and a salon, and it has floor coverings and mattresses (approximately six) and two brown-colored plastic chairs. We sat in one of the rooms furthermost from the door of the apartment, and we sat on the mattresses all four of us. I introduced myself to him with the name Tariq and told him that I will be the one administering the security seminar; later on Shakir went downstairs and bought some [rotisserie] chicken and we had dinner the four of us around 7 in the evening.
I left the guest house and went to my apartment in Mezzeh. Shakir also left to get breakfast supplies for the next morning, and came back and slept in the apartment. I was to return in the morning to commence giving the seminar to Ahmed Abu Ades who I had not known his name or alias to that point.
NEW INTERROGATION SESSION
Q: We ask you to give us your testimony in the fullest and truest details, since we have managed through our searches and investigations over a period of months to prepare a study encompassing photographs of individuals, and correlating phone calls with geographical movements, and conclusions from previous investigations, in addition to detaining persons currently in our custody, which we shall show you; and we ask you to answer all these questions?
A: After Ahmed Abu Ades arrived to the guest house in the Rukn al-Din neighborhood, as I told you in my statement, and after we had had dinner in the apartment, me and Ahmed Abu Ades and Khalid al-Taha and Shakir, I left to sleep in my apartment and I returned in the morning at around 7, where I found Shakir and Ahmed Abu Ades and Khalid al-Taha. I began to give Ahmed Abu Ades the lessons of the security seminar, and this lasted until the afternoon. As such the first day of the seminar was over. We had food and we sat to chat.
Meanwhile Khalid had left to Homs to meet Jamil. This situation lasted for three days, and I had moved to live in the guest house, that is I began to sleep there with Shakir and Ahmed Abu Ades.
The seminar ended after four days when Khalid al-Taha returned from Homs, and he had black clothing with him and the cloth banner with the writing on it that appeared later behind Ahmed Abu Ades in the video film, when he declared the Hariri assassination and took credit for it. He also brought with him a Sony video camera, and Khalid al-Taha sat alone with Ahmed Abu Ades, and I think he was preparing him psychologically for the filming, and teaching him what to say. The Khalid al-Taha sat with us and told us that an order for an assassination had been issued, and that we must film that.
We began to prepare a room to film the tape. We picked an appropriate room, and it was the room where I gave the lessons, then we ate and talked between the four of us, and then we went to sleep.
On the next day, that is 24/1/2005, we woke up late. We ate, then we entered me and Khalid and Shakir to the lessons room, while Ahmed Abu Ades entered a different room, and I think he was writing parts of the statement. We had moved a wooden table to the lessons room, and had it covered with black sheets, and we put it on the wall using small black nails from the top left and right hand sides, and we put a plastic chair (brown color) behind the table, thus the room was ready for filming. We locked the door of the room after we left it, and we entered a different room. Meanwhile Khalid al-Taha received the clothes and the white turban and the paper that contain parts of the speech, which he had gotten from Jamil.
Later Ahmed Abu Ades wore the black clothes and the turban, and we entered the room where he sat behind the table and we performed a test run and filmed it. The filming wasn’t good the first time around, then we tried again for a second time on the next day. During the filming, Ahmed Abu Ades coughed, so we decided not to use this film. We stopped filming for that day, and the four of us stayed in the guest house, we didn’t leave it and no one visited us. Khalid was instructing Ahmed Abu Ades about the filming. On the third morning, we began to film, and Shakir was holding the camera, and me and Khalid were standing next to him, me on the right and Khalid on the left.