Sunday, April 06, 2003

Beirut reeling
A serious occurrence in Beirut yesterday. A half-stick of dynamite was placed in the bathroom of a McDonald's franchise in the Dora district in Beirut's eastern suburbs, injuring four. The police also discovered a car-bomb with 55kg of explosives in the parking lot. Reportedly, the bomb failed to explode. It was indeed strange to see two types of explosives planned: Why put a half-stick of dynamite in a place when you plan to blow it up with a devastating car-bomb?

This leads me to speculate that the car-bomb was really a political message directed at the U.S., through a well-known American brand name (albeit owned entirely by Lebanese). The car-bomb was not meant to blow, but the seriousness of the threat was emphasized by the dynamite. Who did it? One can only speculate, but I believe this was related to rising tensions in the Syrian-American relationship and Syria's fears that the U.S. plans to turn against it in the future.

This was the third bombing in three weeks (a bomb in Sidon against the apartment of a Dutch lady, another against the (closed) British Council building, and now this). The authorities have continued to play these events down (yesterday the state-owned Tele-Liban did not even lead with the item on its 7:30pm newscast), but the silence is becoming increasingly absurd.

PS--Since the above post I've spoken to someone who told me the car-bomb was indeed set to blow, but that a techncial glitch prevented it. I also spoke to someone well informed who, citing a Lebanese security source, confirmed my theory that it was not supposed to blow. Take your pick.

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