Victim's daughter testifies at Hariri assassination trial

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In this March 2, 2005 file photo, Lama Ghalayini, left, daughter of Addul-Hameed Mohammed Ghalaini, accompanied by an unidentified relative, cries after Civil Defense members discovered in Beirut, Lebanon, the body of her father, who was killed in the Feb. 14 explosion that left former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 16 other people dead. (AP Photo, File)
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This file photo taken on February 14, 2005 shows a general view of the site of an explosion in Beirut, in which Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed. ( AFP / Anwar Amro)
Updated 28 August 2017
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Victim's daughter testifies at Hariri assassination trial

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands: The daughter of a bystander who lost his life in the massive car bomb that killed former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri spoke Monday of her family’s harrowing search to find her father’s body.
Lama Ghalayini, 39, is the first victim to testify before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a UN-backed tribunal set up to prosecute those who murdered Hariri and 21 others in the huge February 14, 2005 suicide car bombing on Beirut’s busy seafront.
“In the beginning we always had hope that we would find something,” Ghalayini told judges, speaking via video link from the Lebanese capital.
Her voice at times trembling with emotion, Ghalayini described how her father Abdel-Hamid spoke to her the day before going for a walk in the area near the Beirut waterfront.
He was reported missing after news of the suicide bombing — blamed on five suspected members of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, became known.
“We were completely lost, we were in a state of distress and we needed to know exactly what the situation was,” Ghalayini told a five-judge bench.
Looking for their relatives, the family was confronted with the scene of carnage at the blast site.
Ghalayini said they received no help from the authorities in their quest to find her father, a businessman and an amateur pilot.
At the scene “I found body parts. There were also pieces of metal and stones. It was complete chaos,” said Ghalayini.
The family was so desperate that they even hired their own sniffer dogs but to no avail.
Ghalayini’s body was eventually discovered some 17 days after the blast, buried beneath the rubble.
Monday’s hearing marks the first time victims were allowed to speak in the long-running trial which started in 2014 against the five suspects indicted by the court, based just outside The Hague.
However, the STL has quashed the case against one of the accused, Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who is believed to have died in fighting in Syria in May last year.
Four others, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi are being tried in absentia.
The STL opened its doors in 2009 and is the only international ad-hoc tribunal with the jurisdiction to try an act of terror.
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has previously dismissed the tribunal as a US-Israeli plot and vowed none of the defendants will ever be caught.


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.