This morning, the State Department designated former Lebanese parliament member, and longtime ally of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Michel Samaha as a specially designated global terrorist. Treasury also designated Samaha for “undermining Lebanon’s democratic processes or institutions, contributing to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon, supporting the reassertion of Syrian control or otherwise contributing to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or infringing upon or undermining Lebanese sovereignty.”
The designations “block all of Samaha’s property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of Samaha,” but it’s not obvious what, if any, practical effect the actions will have on a private individual. The purpose, rather, is to underscore Samaha’s role in sowing chaos throughout the Levant the last several years. It should also highlight the depravity of New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh, who over the years became cozy with the former minister of information—a terrorist, whose fictitious narratives Hersh used to spin conspiracy theories thrashing Bush administration officials.
Samaha was arrested in August and confessed to “planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon at Syrian orders.” Many of the operations Samaha plotted, like an assassination attempt on the Maronite patriarch, were designed to foment sectarian conflict and set Lebanon, like Syria, to war.
The man responsible for bringing down Samaha was Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, chief of the information branch of Lebanon’s internal security forces. And it was precisely this case, said one of Hassan’s superiors, that led to the massive car bombing that killed Hassan in Beirut two months ago. Before his murder, Hassan visited Washington to brief U.S. security officials on the Samaha case and other regional matters. Perhaps they were among those who pushed for the designation today of a terrorist who over the last decade has spilled lots of blood across the region, Seymour Hersh’s reliable source.