Mystery terrorism

The Independent

Will we ever know who fired rockets at Southern Beirut this morning? If recent history is any indicator, the perpetrators and details of the crime may remain shrouded in mystery for some time.

Suspects and evidence are in short supply for the dozens of explosions that have rocked Lebanon over recent years, including rocket attacks near the prime minister’s office in 2006.  

What is surprising in these attacks is the relatively low death tolls, unlike the bombs that have gone off in other parts of the region or in Western countries. Even high profile assassinations in very densely populated areas such as that of security chief Wissam al Hassan last year, have claimed relatively few civilians compared to similar attacks in other countries. 

Do we have a rare breed of terrorists on our hands in Lebanon? Are Lebanese terrorists less interested in mass casualties as they are at targeting specific individuals or sending messages with bombs that sometimes explode, sometimes do not; that sometimes kill civilians but often do not?

And why are the perpetrators rarely apprehended? The world watched as CSI Boston tracked down and apprehended or killed suspects within days of the recent bombing in that city. Hours after the attack, details were already surfacing about the suspects’ friends, conversations, even personal hobbies. 

But how much do we know about the terrorists who have wreaked havoc on Lebanon dozens of times over the last decade? Do we even have grainy surveillance camera footage? 

And where is CSI Beirut anyway? In fact, it was their questionable competence at an East Beirut crime scene that inspired my very first post on this blog over five years ago.

And yet Lebanese investigators are not alone. Even the FBI has been sent to Lebanon numerous times to investigate terrorist attacks. But where are the results of those investigations? 

Whether or not these latest rockets attacks on South Beirut fit the mold of previous ones, Lebanese citizens should be asking deep questions about the particularly odd type of terrorism this country faces. Even more odd is the way in which its perpetrators have managed to remain so mysterious and elusive to law enforcement.