US welcomes guilty verdict in Lebanon ex-PM’s murder
WASHINGTON — The United States welcomed the conviction Tuesday of a member of the Hezbollah Shiite movement over the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri.
Salim Ayyash, 56, was found guilty in his absence by the UN-backed tribunal in the Netherlands after a years-long trial for his involvement in a suicide bombing in Beirut that killed the Sunni billionaire and 21 other people.
“Ayyash’s conviction helps confirm what the world is increasingly recognizing,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “that (Hezbollah) and its members are not defenders of Lebanon as they claim to be but constitute a terrorist organization dedicated to advancing Iran’s malign sectarian agenda.”
The three other alleged Hezbollah members who were accused were acquitted. The judges also said there was no evidence to directly link Syria — the former military overlord in Lebanon — or Hezbollah’s leadership to the attack.
“Although Ayyash remains at large, the ruling underscores the importance of rendering justice and ending impunity, which is imperative to ensuring Lebanon’s security, stability, and sovereignty,” Pompeo added.