|The late Hashim Salman (left) and Hezbollah men on the attack|
A Lebanese Shiite in his twenties was killed and five injured outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut on Sunday after Hezbollah bullies laid into a busload of mostly Shiite students protesting against the Iranian-backed Shiite militia’s role in the Syria war.
The man killed by gunfire was identified as Hashim Salman, head of the student section of the Lebanese Intima’ Party (“حزب الانتماء اللبناني” or “Lebanese Affiliation Party”), led by Ahmad el-Ass’ad whose family has been politically eclipsed within the Shiite community since the mid-1980s.
When the bus carrying the Intima’ group stopped outside the Iranian embassy, Hezbollah bullies, all identifiable by their black T-shirts, yellow armbands and blue jeans, wearing pistols on their belts, attacked the vehicle with batons, smashing its windows.
The two groups scuffled on the street and the Hezbollah men drew their weapons and opened fire, killing Hashim Salman and wounding Muhammad Hassan, Hassan Hassan, Hassan Souli and Ziad Ali.
The Intima’ Party leader told this morning’s edition of the independent Beirut daily an-Nahar, “About a hundred of our supporters, most of them university students, headed to the Iranian embassy to tell Iranians ‘you involved our men in the Syria war, which is something we don’t accept. If you are so keen on fighting this war, send in your Iranian army to fight whoever it wants.’”
Ass’ad said Hezbollah bullies attacked his supporters as soon as their bus approached the Iranian embassy. He said Salman was specifically targeted and shot twice in the abdomen at close range “because Hezbollah knows he is very close to me.”
Ass’ad also charged that after falling to the ground, Salman was left to bleed for about 20 minutes before his assailants allowed moving him to hospital.
|Clockwise from L.: Ahmad, Kamel and Ahmad Bey el-Ass'ad|
Talking separately to al-Mustaqbal newspaper, the Intima’ leader said Salman’s premeditated “execution” was meant to send him and his party a message.
“The incident,” he said, “proved that Hassan Nasrallah’s problem is not with the Takfiris in Syria, but with the opposite view inside the Shiite community. Hashim was Shiite, so were his father and forefathers. Where is the Takfiri in this? Those were university student protestors…”
The Intima’ party leader’s father and grandfather dominated Shiite politics in Lebanon for nearly 40 years.
Both his father Kamel el-Ass’ad and grandfather Ahmad Bey el-Ass’ad served as Lebanese parliament speaker frequently between 1951 and 1984.
Syria sidelined Kamel el-Ass’ad from Lebanese politics in 1984, when it threw its weight behind the more hardline Shiite groups – namely, the pro-Syrian Amal Movement headed by current House Speaker Nabih Berri and Iran’s cat’s-paw Hezbollah.