Lebanon’s Former Ambassador to U.S. Killed in Car Bomb Attack

By:  Warren Mass
Lebanon’s Former Ambassador to U.S. Killed in Car Bomb Attack

Mohamad Chatah, who served as Lebanon’s Ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2000, was assassinated on December 27 when a car bomb struck his car in downtown Beirut.

The blast killed five others, including Chatah’s bodyguard, Mohammed Badr. Seventy-one people were also wounded in the attack. 

Only an hour before the attack, Chatah posted a tweet about Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shiite militant group: “#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.”

The governments of the United States, Britain, Israel, and the European Union, among others, have classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Despite its militant stance and often-violent history, Hezbollah condemned the attack in a statement broadcast on Hezbollah TV, saying that the bombing “only benefits the enemies of Lebanon.”

The group called on “all the security and judicial agencies to be on high alert to expose the perpetrators and bring them to justice.” 

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whom Chatah had served as an advisor, issued a statement Friday condemning the killing, calling it “yet another terrorist message sent to us, we the free men of Lebanon in the Future Movement and March 14 coalition.”

Hariri took on a role as leader of the Movement of the Future, which forms a major part of the March 14 Alliance, in 2005. The March 14 Alliance, in which Hariri also has a leadership roll, is a political coalition comprised mainly of Sunni Muslims, but also includes Maronite Christian and secular groups. The alliance is considered to be pro-Western.

Hariri’s father, Rafik Hariri, who preceded him as prime minister, was killed in an explosion targeting his convoy in 2005, just blocks away from Friday’s bomb attack. AFP noted that Chatah was the ninth high-profile anti-Syria figure killed in Lebanon since the elder Hariri’s assassination. AP noted that Hariri’s allies accused Syria of being behind his assassination as well as other killings, a claim Damascus denied.

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Photo of Lebanese soldiers at the scene of the car bomb attack that killed Mohammed Chatah: AP Images

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