FBI Team Heads To Lebanon To Assist In Probe Of Beirut Blast
A US official has said a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are to arrive in Lebanon this weekend to take part in the probe of Beirut’s massive explosion.
David Hale, US undersecretary of State for political affairs, called for a thorough and transparent investigation.
He said the FBI team is taking part at the invitation of Lebanese authorities to find answers about what caused the August 4 explosion that killed nearly 180 people and wounded thousands.
The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port remains unclear.
Documents have emerged showing the country’s top leadership and security officials were aware of the chemicals stored at the port. French investigators are also taking part in the Lebanese-led probe.
We really need to make sure that there is a thorough, a transparent and credible investigation. I know that is what everyone is demanding.
In the immediate aftermath, search and rescue crews flew in from around the world. Hale toured the blast site with Lebanese army officers.
Many Lebanese have demanded that the probe be taken out of the hands of their government out of fear corruption politicians would not allow any results to come to light.
Top Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun, have rejected calls for an independent probe, describing it as “a waste of time” that would be politicized.
Late Friday, the leader of the powerful Hezbollah group said that he did not trust any international investigation, in reference to the FBI assistance.
Hassan Nasrallah said the cause of the explosion is still unclear, adding that any international probe would also have to clear Israel of any responsibility in the port explosion.
Nasrallah added that Israel will be met “with an equally devastating response” if the investigation points to its involvement.
Israel has however denied involvement, and so far no evidence has emerged suggesting otherwise.
However, Aoun, who is supported by Hezbollah, has said it is one of the theories being investigated.