Investigator Gary Platt’s testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Thursday provided further details on the command and control structure of the conspiracy leading up to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. As with much of the testimony, discussions centered on call data records that have been integral to the prosecution’s case against the five defendants. Throughout the proceedings, lawyers have used the movements of cellphones attributed to the accused to track the alleged plot leading up to the assassination.
Hariri, along with 21 others, was killed in a bomb blast in Downtown Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.
Platt began Thursday’s testimony by noting a common pattern during surveillance of Hariri’s movements in the months before the attack.
“When a movement starts or finishes, we see [unidentified] Subject 6 in contact with [Salim Ayyash – one of the defendants],” Platt said. “This is consistent with informing Ayyash of what has taken place.”
Based on his experience as an investigator, Platt said this type of coordination activity was consistent with a structured and rigidly organized system of operation.
Prompted by a question from Judge David Re, Platt also explained why Ayyash and Mustafa Badreddine, who the prosecution alleges played a leading role in the conspiracy, were usually far away from Hariri himself.
“It’s not unusual for somebody organizing surveillance to be stationed several miles away from where the operation is taking place,” he said. “When you’re in control of a surveillance operation ... you might need access to other information, other people or equipment. You might have other things going on that have an impact on what’s happening,” Platt said. By his account, this fact corroborated the assertion that the two played an organizational role in the plot.
In addition to mapping out the control structure of the operation, Platt and Prosecutor Nigel Povoas also detailed unusual activity on Jan. 31, 2005 that, according to Platt, demonstrated some of the group’s surveillance strategies.
That day, Hariri made several stops – including at the Higher Shiite Council and the house of now Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh. Platt explained that, from his understanding of the cellphone records, members of several networks had been stationed throughout the city, especially around the Parliament building in Downtown.
“For some reason, there was an expectation that Hariri would be in the Parliament area,” Platt said. However, perhaps due to a change of plan, Hariri never traveled to that area of the city, instead going straight to a meeting at the Higher Shiite Council in south Beirut.
This move was followed closely by a flurry of cellphone activity from several “spotters,” located both at the council and along the route the convoy took. “The movement of the convoy was spotted and most of the subjects then relocated down to the council,” Platt said.
“Because they planned carefully, they had all areas covered.”
Importantly, the surveillance at the council was conducted using the so-called “red network,” of phones that were allegedly used by those who carried out the assassination. This was the first instance of the red network being used for surveillance.
Though both Platt and Povoas implied that this topic would be discussed more extensively in further testimony, they noted that the use of these phones might have been an attempt to divert attention from other aspects of the conspiracy.

Source & Link: The Daily Star