News / Middle East

Thousands of Lebanese Mourn Intelligence Official Killed in Blast

Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman pays his respects after placing honorary medals at the coffins of slain intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan and his bodyguard Ahmed Sahyouni during an official ceremony to pay tribute their deaths, at the Internal Sec
Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman pays his respects after placing honorary medals at the coffins of slain intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan and his bodyguard Ahmed Sahyouni during an official ceremony to pay tribute their deaths, at the Internal Sec
Edward Yeranian
Thousands of Lebanese gathered in Beirut's Martyrs Square for the funeral of police intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan, killed in the explosion of a car bomb on Friday. 
 
A sea of mourners gathered in Martyrs Square outside the Mohammed al Amin mosque as Lebanon's top political and religious leaders attended prayers inside. The flag-draped coffins of Hassan and an officer who died with him lay in state as the mufti of Tripoli, Malek Sha'ar, delivered the funeral oration.
 
As the prayers ended, several religious and political figures addressed the crowd, saying that Lebanon and the opposition March 14 coalition have paid “too high a price and suffered too many martyrs” in recent years.

A Lebanese protester gestures from the top of the monument at Martyrs Square as the crowd gathered for the funeral of the country's intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.A Lebanese protester gestures from the top of the monument at Martyrs Square as the crowd gathered for the funeral of the country's intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.
x
A Lebanese protester gestures from the top of the monument at Martyrs Square as the crowd gathered for the funeral of the country's intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.
A Lebanese protester gestures from the top of the monument at Martyrs Square as the crowd gathered for the funeral of the country's intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.
The slain police intelligence official was allied with Lebanon's anti-Syrian opposition and seen as a supporter of the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syria's civil war has heightened political and sectarian tensions in neighboring Lebanon.
 
Former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora told the crowd at the funeral that it is time for the assassinations to stop and for the current government, which is supported by the pro-Syrian Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, to resign.
 
He said the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati must no longer cover for the crimes that Siniora says are being committed. Sinioria added that Mikati himself bears moral responsibility for those crimes and must give way to a neutral, unity government.
 
The prime minister told a news conference Saturday that he had offered his resignation, but that President Michel Suleiman had asked him to stay on until political talks take place, to avoid a vacuum.
 
Siniora also accused Syrian Intelligence Chief Ali Mamlouk and pro-Syrian Lebanese politician Michel Samaha of being behind Wissam al Hassan's assassination. Samaha was arrested last month after being taped discussing a plot to blow-up politicians who oppose Syria.
 
Several blocks away, a crowd of young men threw stones and waved metal bars at a barbed wire barrier protecting the prime minister's offices. Security forces guarding the old Ottoman structure fired tear gas to keep the angry protesters from storming the barriers.
 
Earlier, a police band played funeral dirges as President Suleiman awarded the slain police inspector Lebanon's highest honor, promoting him posthumously to the rank of general. Suleiman told the crowd that Hassan's killing must not go unpunished:
 
He urged Lebanon's political leaders not to cover for the crimes that are being committed, saying that the people want the courts and the police to find and prosecute the criminals. 
 
Christian political leader Michel Aoun, who is part of the outgoing pro-Syrian government, called Wissam al-Hassan a martyr but insisted that some political leaders are “trying to use his death for political purposes.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs