Hezbollah bought explosive material during time of port storage — report

"Hezbollah in Lebanon received large deliveries of ammonium nitrate, which are closely related to the material detonated in Beirut."

The scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city.  (photo credit: ANWAR AMRO/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
The scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt in several parts of the city.
Hezbollah purchased a large amount of ammonium nitrate that was linked to the storage of the same chemical that was being stored at Beirut Port and led to a massive explosion in early August, German daily Die Welt reported Wednesday.
“Welt has exclusive information from Western secret services. Accordingly, the [Hezbollah] militia bought large quantities of the dangerous substance... After the disaster in the Port of Beirut, Hezbollah was suspected of having been involved in the storage of the explosive ammonium nitrate,” the report said.
“According to information from Western secret services that is available to Welt, Hezbollah in Lebanon received large deliveries of ammonium nitrate, which are closely related to the material detonated in Beirut,” Die Welt reported.
It is not certain if the ammonium nitrate at the port was the same that was shipped around the same time to Hezbollah in 2013 and 2014, according to the report. Some of the Lebanese terrorist group’s purchase was shipped through the port, and some was imported via airport or overland through Syria, the report said.
The Jerusalem Post
could not verify the unnamed Western intelligence sources mentioned in the report.
The explosion of the ammonium nitrate during the first week of August killed at least 171 people and injured 6,000. The explosive material was believed to have been stored at the port since 2014.
Hezbollah “had considerable quantities of ammonium nitrate delivered to Lebanon precisely at that time (late 2013 or early 2014). The Quds unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, i.e., the part of those paramilitaries responsible for foreign operations, which also has a key political position in Iran, is said to have been responsible for the transport,” Die Welt reported.
THE DELIVERIES of ammonium nitrate to the Lebanese Shi’ite organization in 2013 must have occurred under the watch of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US military in a drone strike in January, the report said.
The first delivery is believed to have taken place on July 16, 2013, and involved 270 tons of ammonium nitrate that was sent from Iran to Lebanon. The invoice was for €179,399. On October 23, 2013, a second delivery of 270 tons was delivered for €140,693. The amount of the third delivery could not be determined, Die Welt reported.
A fourth delivery on April 4, 2014 cost €61,248 euros, and Die Welt estimated that the tonnage ranged from 90 to 130 tons. The total of three deliveries of ammonium nitrate to Hezbollah, therefore, weighed between 630 and 670 tons.
“The freight from October 2013 is said to have been transported in flexible bulk containers by plane, presumably with one of the officially private Iranian airlines, which are considered the front companies of the Revolutionary Guard,” Die Welt reported.
One of the airlines, Iranian-based Mahan Air, “was deprived of the right to take off and land in Germany last year, with an explicit reference to the activities of the Revolutionary Guard,” the report said. The US government has designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization.
Die Welt
listed a number of Hezbollah and Iranian regime operatives involved in the deliveries of ammonium nitrate to the port. Mohammad Qasir, who was sanctioned by the US government for financing the Lebanese terrorist group, was listed as a deliverer of the explosive material.
MATTHEW LEVITT, who serves as the director of the Washington Institute’s Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence told the Post: “Qasir heads Lebanese Hezbollah Unit 108, responsible for facilitating transfer of weapons and tech from Iran to Lebanon via Syria. Based in Damascus, Qasir and other senior Hezbollah officials work closely with officers from Quds Force’s Unit 190 – which specializes in smuggling weapons to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Gaza – under the supervision of the late Qasem Soleimani.”
The purported effort to procure the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that blew up earlier this month, he said, is not linked to his account of Qasir’s terrorist activities outlined to the Post.
Levitt, a leading Hezbollah expert, added: “The first link in the weapons transportation chain is Qasir’s Unit 108, which is responsible for moving weapons across Syria to the Lebanese border and then, together with Unit 112, transporting weapons across the border into Lebanon. Another Hezbollah unit, Unit 100, runs a ratline in the reverse direction, from Lebanon to Syria to Iran, ferrying Hezbollah trainees to and from advanced training in the handling and use of the rockets delivered from Iran.”
“Qasir, aka Hajj Fadi, is uniquely qualified to head a unit as sensitive and important as Unit 108,” he said. “One of Qasir’s brothers, Hassan, is reportedly the son-in-law of Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah. Another brother, Ahmed Qasir, was the suicide bomber who carried out the November 1992 attack on an Israeli military headquarters in Tyre. Nasrallah referred to Ahmed as the ‘prince of martyrs’ at a Martyrs Foundation event marking the anniversary of the attack.”
Die Welt documented additional operatives involved in the deliveries. Iranian Quds Force member Seyyed Mojtaba Moussavi Tabar is believed to have organized the Iranian transfer of ammonium nitrate to Hezbollah.
Tabar’s deputy, Behnam Shahriyari, who was sanctioned by the US in 2011, was also part of the delivery operation, the report said. He was sanctioned because of his support for Hezbollah, which is classified as a terrorist entity by the US, Canada, Germany, Britain, the Arab League, Lithuania, a number of Latin America countries and Israel.
Tabar played a role in the operation as head of the Iranian transportation firm Liner Transport Kish, which apparently delivered the ammonium nitrate to Hezbollah.
The US State Department under both the Obama and Trump administrations designated Iran’s regime, the chief sponsor of Hezbollah, as the worst state sponsor of terrorism.
Hezbollah denies involvement with the explosion of the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in early August. The German government justified its April ban of all Hezbollah activities because the organization was found to have stored the explosive chemical in the state of Bavaria. Members of Hezbollah’s network have also been seized with the substance in Cyprus, France and the UK.
Hezbollah may have amassed the ammonium nitrate to use during the civil war in Syria and advance the military aims of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, a Western security expert told Die Welt.
A second reason for accumulating the deadly chemical, the security expert said, may have been to detonate the material against Israeli targets via Hezbollah’s tunnel system.