Narrative of a Conspiracy, Part 3.5
I translated part of the final section that appeared on October 16, 2007 in al-Akhbar, and hopefully will put up the remaining part of the piece and my own analysis of Faisal Akbar’s testimony over the next few days:
"After the Saudi detainee Faisal Akbar confessed to the details of the operation to assassinate Rafiq Hariri, he goes back and retracts his full testimony in the same interrogation session:
Q: Through surveying the events before the attack, and we mean the security cameras that are concentrated in the vicinity of where the explosion took place, and based on deductions that are available to us, and what was forthcoming in your statement here, it turns out that the truck was moving before the attack. There is information that says that Abu Ades does not drive, and you did not tell us that you gave him any lessons on driving in the seminar your administered to him, in addition to this issue of driving, and under such circumstances, he would not have been able to control the driving of the truck at the speed that was seen on the security camera. Then it is also somewhat dangerous to parade Abu Ades in the Syrian cities, Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, and to smuggle him over the land borders and to place him in the middle of the capital, where he is from, and to risk having him identified by chance and thus ruining your plans. It was also proven that there was not DNA [evidence] indicating that Ahmed Abu Ades was at the scene of the crime. It is certain that you are an explosives expert, and we noticed this while searching the Rosheh apartment, where we found ear plugs and special eardrops for you, and that you have symptoms in your ears, as we were told by the doctor in your group. It is also clear that Abu Ades taped the video film, but it is not known what happened after that.
Now tell us how the operation took place, and what happened to Abu Ades, and who are the real participants and perpetrators and activists and look-outs who were involved in preparing the vehicle and the explosives and all the elements of the crime? Tell us about all that with honesty, and about the place where you stayed in?
A: The truth is that Ahmed Abu Ades recorded the video tape, and he was brought by Khalid al-Taha from Beirut on 16/1/2005 to Sheikh Rashid, to his headquarters in Aleppo. During this time, I had been in Beirut for two months with the operation team, and with us was Jamil and Adnan and Fawwaz and Thamir and Bassam and Muhanned, and we were staying at an apartment in the Dhahia. Khalid al-Taha joined us, afterwards, to finish-up the surveillance operation, and let it be known that the person who conducted the bombing was a Saudi youth, who arrived from the ‘Al-Qaeda in the Haramein’ [organization], and he was sent by Abu Hajer. He’s the one who conducted the operation to assassinate Hariri using the same truck that I mentioned to you. Afterwards we broke the [SIM cards] of our cell phones, and we left the places that we were at, and then we crossed over to Syria through smuggling.
The suicide bomber was called Abu Muqatil al-Asadi, and the truck was prepared [for detonation] in the ‘Ain al-Helwah Camp by Abu ‘Ubeida.
Q: Can you remember any of the [cell phone] numbers that were used by yourselves in the two month period that you mentioned?
A: No, I can’t remember any of them.
Q: We will show you a list of eleven numbers, can you recognize any of the numbers that were used in what you mentioned?
A: The numbers used were seven, and not eleven, and after perusing [your list] I can’t remember any of them.
Q: Can you inform us about the address or the full identity of Abu Muqatil al-Asadi?
A: No, I cannot inform you of that.
Q: If we took you with us, would you be able to identify the apartment in which you stayed during the preparation phase of the operation that you claimed to have participated in?
A: No, I don’t remember how to get to these places.
Q: Then why did you weave together events from your imagination or from a source you may have heard give the details if you hadn’t participated [in these events]?
A: I should tell you that Sheikh Rashid, and that was two weeks ago and we were in Lebanon in the Shati’ al-Dhahabi apartment, had asked me to inform the guys that the security services in Lebanon don’t know anything about the subject of Ahmed Abu Ades. He added that I should inform them that if any of them was detained by these [security] services, that they should not confess to the issue of Ahmed Abu Ades. On this basis, and through my close relationship and understanding of my emir, Sheikh Rashid, I imagined the details as I mentioned to you, and I put myself in these details since I thought that you wouldn’t believe that I hadn’t participated if I had told you the details without being part of their stages.
Q: We asked you repeatedly to speak with honesty and to be specific, and it was you who claimed that Abu Turab was the alias of Ahmed Abu Ades, and that he was brought to you in Syria by way of Khalid al-Taha. What is established is that the latter is connected to you, and you deliberately smuggled him into the Ain al-Helwah Camp. And after we questioned you about this Abu Turab, you informed us that you learnt that his real name later after you watched Abu Ades appear on TV.
You are the one who wanted to give this detailed information, that corresponded with the results of our investigations and many elements of the investigations so far. So do you know Ahmed Abu Ades, and did you smuggle Khalid al-Taha to the camp, and did the following [persons] attend your security seminars: Khalid al-Taha, Hani al-Shenti, Amer Hallaq, Selim Halimeh, and Bilal Za’aroureh?
A: I lied to you about the topic of my meeting of Ahmed Abu Ades. As for Hani al-Shenti whose alias is Marwan, and Bilal Za’aroureh also known as Jalal, and Amer Hallaq also known as Wasim, and Selim Halimeh also known as Samir, they underwent security seminars with me, and then they pledged allegiance to Sheikh Rashid.
Q: Why this exclusivity, since all the aforementioned knew and had a relationship with Ahmed Abu Ades, and why is he excluded from your list, given that he follows the same creed. What is the purpose of crossing him out of the list?
A: I affirm to you that I didn’t see Ahmed Abu Ades during my security seminars.
Q: Tell us about the frequency of seminars that you set up for those who requested them over the last two years?
A: I shall tell you that I gave seminars to approximately four persons every week, over the last two years. Youth from all the countries of the Islamic world would attend, including those from Lebanon and Palestinians residing [in Lebanon].
Q: Were you distracted by something during this period you talk of, and what distracted you from training the mujaheddin. If yes, tell us when and for how long and why?
A: No, I didn’t leave my work giving lectures in security seminar but once and that was for a week in June 2005, when I went to Iraq and met Sheikh Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi to discuss the matter of the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Q: Can you remember the young [men] who came to you in the first and second month of 2005, especially any Lebanese or a Palestinian residing in Lebanon, and to name him?
A: No, I don’t remember any of these guys from that period.
Q: By looking into the call logs of the seven numbers that were used from 4/2/2005 to 14/2/2005 until 1 PM, that is the time of the assassination of the martyr president Hariri, these numbers only called each other, and their geographical movements paralleled on different dates the movement of the private convoy of the martyr and the vicinity of the parliament and the St. George Hotel and the places overlooking it, and they were shut off at the moment of the explosion or seconds after that and were never active again, in addition to the cut-off in the activity of these lines after noontime on 14/1/2005 to start up again on the morning of 20/1/2005, given that Ahmed Abu Ades disappeared on the morning of 16/1/2005 and that corresponded to the time that Khalid al-Taha arrived on the evening of the 15/1/2005, and his departure from Lebanon through the Masna’a [border point] on the morning of 16/1/2005.
In addition to that, your distribution of those [tasked with] surveillance and monitoring, as you called them in your testimony, at the places that you mentioned which matched the movement of those who were using the numbers and the times of when they woke up [also matched] what you told about your movements in the apartment in Dhahia. We also, in order to verify [information], showed you a list of [phone] numbers so that you’d remember the numbers that were used as you told us, and we added four fake numbers to them, and corrected us by telling us that the numbers used were seven [in number], and not eleven, which corresponded to the aliases you mentioned: five onlookers and you and Jamil makes seven, and these facts did not appear in the news or in the media. How do you explain your knowledge of these details, and how is it that you can describe the streets of Beirut and its landmarks. Can this all be by way of coincidence?
A: It occurred to me to mention five onlookers, so I gave you made-up aliases, and me and Jamil make seven. Thus the number seven popped into my mind and I mentioned it to you. And I had no knowledge that the numbers that you say were used to in the phases of the Hariri assassination were seven.
I also concocted the places that I told you about, and that the surveillance team had been based there, and that was a figment of my imagination, and I used my knowledge of these streets and the St. George since I’ve been to Lebanon on previous occasions and I know them since then, and they would be useful to be sites for observing the place of the assassination that I saw on television. As for the disappearance of Ahmed Abu Ades, I know nothing about this subject, except what Rashid told me recently which I mentioned to you, to warn the guys, Marwan and Khalid Taha, not to tell the security services anything concerning Abu Ades.
Q: Since you are an instructor of many security seminars for the youth, and we have looked-over the content of the lessons that you would give on this manner from what was captured among the belongings of the detainees, it had become clear that there were lessons on how to mislead interrogators and other techniques, and advice to the students that in the case of investigations being conducted with them then they should deviate the course of the interrogation to waste time and to hide facts, and this was made very clear in your statement. Why do you resort to this technique?
A: It was not my intention to mislead the investigation or to hide information, and now I telling the truth about what I have to say.
Q: So you retract your testimony over meeting and interviewing Abu Ades?
A: Yes, I retract it, and I didn’t see him or meet him in any prior time. I only watched him on television on three occasions, and that was after the bombing.
Q: What else do you recant from your testimony?
A: I recant my knowledge of or participation in the phases of the Hariri assassination on 14/2/2005.