Has the FBI ever been to Lebanon?

Yesterday the State Department said the FBI would be sending over a team to help investigate the car bomb assassination of intelligence chief Wissam Hassan.

During that briefing, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner was asked if the FBI had been sent to Lebanon before, to investigate the Hariri assassination in 2005:

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know if FBI team helped in the investigation of the Hariri assassination?
MR. TONER: I’ll take that as well.
QUESTION: Or have they – are there any –
MR. TONER: Is there a history there? Yeah. That’s a valid question. I’ll find out.
Actually the FBI has sent at least two forensic teams to Lebanon since 2005.

A four-man team was reportedly sent to Lebanon in June 2005 to investigate the bombing of journalist Samir Kassir, and in 2009, at least three agents were reportedly investigating the bombing of a US embassy vehicle.

I don’t recall reading the results of these investigations and apparently Toner didn’t even know they had taken place.

So were there any results?

The last FBI team was in Lebanon only four years ago. Toner was director of press relations at the State Department around that time, so you think he might have heard something about it.

In fact. Toner wasn’t totally sure where or how the FBI was deployed outside the US and neither were State Department reporters, who seemed surprised at the prospect:

QUESTION: Not just in Lebanon but elsewhere.
MR. TONER: You mean –
QUESTION: I mean, the fact that there were no Americans killed, correct?
MR. TONER: Right. But we have elsewhere in the world.
QUESTION: No, I know. But I mean –
MR. TONER: I think there’s been instances of FBI offering – well, we’ve offered assistance, and countries have accepted in cases of terrorism. But let me get some specific details for you.

Maybe more American reporters should be inquiring into the overseas deployments of the FBI and other US agencies. American citizens might be interested in what they are up to.


The State Department updated its website yesterday, saying the FBI did indeed participate in investigating Hariri’s assassination, providing “technical assistance.” But that one-liner provided no details about the results of that investigation and failed to mention the many other FBI investigations in Lebanon. So what was in the black box and who’s fingerprints were lifted? Is there a report on this? And how many other FBI teams have worked in Lebanon?

Fellow tweep Imad Hammam has just reminded me of yet another three-man FBI team in Beirut– this one dispatched to investigate the bombing of journalist May Chidiac in September 2005.

Here are some details from a USA Today article published at the time:

“Three FBI agents examined the destroyed vehicle. Wearing gloves, one sifted through debris and collected fragments while another shot pictures. A third took notes. Journalists were kept behind a Lebanese police cordon; team members declined to respond to requests for comment. A black box carried by a team member was marked “explosives unit” and bore the Washington address of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

So what was in the black box and who’s fingerprints were lifted? Is there a report on this? And how many other FBI teams have worked in Lebanon?
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