Lebanese deny foiling assassin plot

Official: Plot was in 'phase of intentions.'

hizbullah nasrallah 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
hizbullah nasrallah 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
Military intelligence has arrested a ring of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists who planned to assassinate the leader of the Hizbullah militant group, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, a military official said Monday. The official said the plot was in "the phase of intentions" and had not reached "the phase of implementation." The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the press, told The Associated Press that the Lebanese and Palestinian detainees would be handed over to a military prosecutor on Tuesday for further questioning and indictment. He said some are related through marriage. He gave no further details, but the daily newspaper As-Safir reported Monday that military intelligence had arrested nine members of the plot last week after they were observed acting suspiciously near Hizbullah's headquarters in the southern Beirut district of Haret Horeik. The military is looking for more members of the plot, the paper said. Hizbullah spokesman Hassan Rahal refused to comment. As-Safir said the plotters planned to fire armor-piercing rockets at Nasrallah's car when he traveled to central Beirut for the next session of the national dialogue among Lebanon's faction leaders. The paper also claimed that military intelligence had seized such rockets in a raid on the plotters' hideout. The military official told the AP that some of As-Safir's details were true, "but others are not so accurate." He would not elaborate. Nasrallah has been attending the intermittent sessions of a round-table conference of political leaders on the country's most divisive issues. The most contentious questions at the conference, whose next session is due April 28, have been the disarmament of Hizbullah, as demanded by a UN Security Council Resolution of 2004, and the fate of President Emile Lahoud. Anti-Syrian factions, who hold a slim majority in parliament, have demanded that Lahoud step down, but pro-Syrian parties reject this.