Did A Senior Hezbollah Commander Escape an Assassination Plot?

 

February 7, 2013

  

Did A Senior Hezbollah Commander Escape an Assassination Plot?

By Avi Melamed

According to unconfirmed information, from a source I evaluate as fairly reliable, Wafik Safa, the head of the “Central Liaison and Cooperation Committee” of Hezbollah in Lebanon, was injured at the beginning of the month in an explosion in the Sulm neighborhood in Beirut. It is not clear if it was an assassination plot, but there are reasons to affirm the suspicions.

Safa, born in 1960 in the town of Zibdin in South Lebanon, is the brother-in-law of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. For years he was Hezbollah’s “man in the shadows” – his name was “The Ghost.” He is considered to be a member of the most powerful inner-circle within the organization. His specific title within Hezbollah is vague, yet he holds a very powerful and senior position. He is in charge of all of Hezbollah’s counter-espionage activities in Lebanon. His adversaries say he is the “real boss” in Lebanon.

Safa is also the person in charge of all the exchange deals for dead Israeli soldiers and the one Israeli civilian abducted by Hezbollah. Safa personally handed the dead bodies of the two Israeli soldiers killed in Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli military patrol in July 2006 which sparked a war between Israel and Hezbollah, over to the German mediator.

If the information is accurate that Safa did in fact escape an assassination plot, it is possible that it is connected to an incident that took place a few months ago.  

At the end of November 2012 a group of about twenty-five Lebanese Sunni-Jihadist militants entered Syria from Northern Lebanon. The group planned to join the rebels fighting Assad’s troops.

In the area of Talkalch, inside Syrian territory next to the Lebanese-Syrian border, the group was ambushed. Seventeen members of the group were killed, others were imprisoned by the Syrians, and a few escaped. The majority of the fatalities were from the predominately Sunni-Lebanese city of Tripoli. Syria gradually returned the dead bodies to their families by mid-December.

According to uncorroborated information, it was Safa who personally provided General Rafik Shehadeh, the head of Syrian Military Intelligence, with information about the group – its members, movements, intentions, etc. Based upon Safa’s information, Hezbollah militants disguised as Syrian soldiers ambushed the group. 

Hezbollah, which is Shiite, has members – reportedly senior officials – that are being held captive by a Sunni Rebel group in in the area of Ala’aza in Syria since May 2012. (You can read more about this event in my article “Nasrallah Gets a Taste of his Own Bitter Medicine.”) Hezbollah wanted to kidnap Sunnis from Tripoli as a card, so that their families back in Tripoli would put pressure on the Sunni Rebels in Syria to release the Hezbollah prisoners in return for their captured brothers and sons.

Among the Shiite prisoners being held captive since May (according to unconfirmed reports) is Wafik Safa’s son, Ali.

 

 End of Report

About the Author
Avi Melamed is a Strategic Intelligence Analyst and an Expert on the Current Affairs in the Arab and Muslim World and their impact on the Middle East. He is the Founder and CEO of Inside the Middle East: Intelligence Perspectives (ITME), an empowering intelligence analysis praxis transforming students and practitioners into knowledgeable, media literate, critical thinkers. ITME’s goal is to ensure that the next generation of policy influencers will have be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to independently and accurately decipher the Middle East and accurately predict the direction of future events. He is a former Israeli Intelligence Official and Senior Official on Arab Affairs. In his public service, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities and communities throughout the region – often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. His newest book, Inside the Middle East: Making Sense of the Most Dangerous and Complicated Region on Earth, (also available as an audio book) – a GPS to help you navigate the dramatically changing Middle East, offers a unique insight into the Arab world, challenges widely-accepted perceptions, provides a guide to make sense of the events unfolding in the region, and offers an out of the box idea that could lead to a positive breakthrough in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides intelligence analysis, briefings and tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policy makers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs. An Israeli Jew, fluent in Arabic, English and Hebrew, with a unique understanding of Arab society and culture, Avi has his finger on the pulse on the Arab world. He has a proven record of foreseeing the evolution of events in the Middle East and their impact on a local and regional level. Through all of his efforts, as an analyst, educator, entrepreneur, and writer, he is a bridge builder, and dedicates himself to enhancing the Arabic, English and Hebrew speaking audience’s comprehensive understanding of the Middle East and of each other. www.avimelamed.com @AviMelamed
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