Questions persist over Hezbollah's alleged involvement in Beirut Blast

A Cypriot businessman with possible ties to Hezbollah affiliated bank could be the owner of the ship that brought the ammonium nitrate that caused the Beirut Blast.

A satellite image shows damages following Tuesday's blast in the port area in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020 (photo credit: EUROPEAN SPACE IMAGING/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A satellite image shows damages following Tuesday's blast in the port area in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020
As the dust slowly begins to settle over the scorched remains of buildings and cars devastated in the Beirut Port explosion, some questions still remain an unanswered; but, point to Hezbollah, according to Der Spiegel.
While it has already been established that the principal cause of the explosion was improperly stored explosive grade ammonium nitrate in Hangar 12, fresh details shed new light on how it got there in the first place and to whom it possibly belonged.
September 2013, a sea-betaen vessel called the Rhosus left Batumi, Georgia, heading for Mozambique, carrying on board 2,750 tons of the explosive material that turned the clear blue Beirut skyline into a burning inferno.
The volatile cargo was intended for an explosive manufacturer in the African country, which interestingly enough, was subjected to an investigation by Spanish authorities due to possible involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombing by Islamic terrorists.
However, the ships never got there. Instead, the crew was ordered to stop at Beirut Port to load additional cargo to be dropped off at Jordan.
The detour was meant to provide the extra income needed to cover the costs of traveling through the Suez canal, according to Igor Grechuskhin - the ship's purported owner.
After digging deeper into the case, Der Spiegel, together with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, have found out that the ship belonged to a Cypriot businessman, Charalambos Manoli, who had ties to a Hezbollah-affiliated bank.
Manoli, took tremendous efforts to conceal the fact that he owned the Rhosous by having the shipped registered in Moldova. Additionally, its seaworthiness certification was done by another company based in Georgia.
Grechuskhin, as it turns out, only chartered the ship.
Ultimately, an accident that happened during the loading of the new cargo in Beirut Port delayed its departure. Eventually, the ship was seized due to Manoli's standing debts.
Manoli, in fact, owed money to Tanzanian FMBE bank, which was previously suspected of money laundering activities for Hezbollah.
It is possible that Manoli offered the Rhosous to the bank, to cover his debt.
As no efforts were made by any party to reclaim the ship, the cargo was removed by the Lebanese authorities and stored in the port. The ship, in the meantime, sank to the bottom.
But the story does not end there, it appears that a large portion of the ammonium nitrate was stolen shortly before the explosion since, according to European intelligence officials, some 700 to 1,000 tons of the material exploded out of the total 2,750 tons that were on board the ship that never left Beirut.
It remains unknown as to what happened to the rest of it but one thing is clear, Hezbollah's fingerprints could be all over it.