Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Biography of Elias Murr (al-Mur)

LE MONDE | 12.07.05 | 14h26

Outgoing Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr was wounded today, Tuesday July 12th, by a carbomb targeting his convoy in the Rabiyé of northeast Beirut, not far from his residence. The extent of his wounds is unknown. The blast caused major damage judging by images broadcast by al-Arabiya TV.
Several vehicles were on fire and nearby trees were blackend from the explosion, however, fire are rescue personnel were able to remove the dead and wounded. The assassination attempt occured as newly-designated Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was about to announce the new Lebanese government following elections in which anti-Syrians won a crushing majority of the seats in Parliament.

Biography from an AFP-Reuters dispatch in Le Monde

The pro-Syrian Lebanese Minister of Defense, Elias Murr, 43, wounded today in car bombing which claimed two lives, is a Christian [Greek Orthodox] political figure whose career is overshadowed by Syria and by Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, his father-in-law.

A career law practitioner and the offspring of a family of politicians hailing from the Christian-populated mountains of Metn outside Beirut, Elias Murr also holds the post of Vice Premier and is at the helm of several banking, real estate, tourist and civil construction firms in Lebanon and outside the country. He is the son-in-law of President Emile Lahoud whose daughter, Carine, he married and with whom he has had three children.

Elias Murr got his feet wet in politics in 2000 when he replaced his father, Michel Murr, as Minister of Interior in the cabinet of Rafik Hariri. He kept this portfolio until October 2004, despite a number of cabinet reshuffles carried out by Hariri in successive governments. In April 2005 he assumed the Defense portfolio in the interim government of outgoing Premier Najeeb Miqati. Considered a loyal client of Syria and willing to carry out its instructions, he headed an August 2001 intelligence operation against anti-Syrian Christian circles, specifically targeting the Courant Patriotique Libre (Free Patriotic Movement [--now headed by former general Michel Aoun]) and the political wing of the Forces Libanaises (Lebanese Forces), a former Christian militia. Some 250 people were arrested and sent to jail and three activists were sentenced to prison terms for “contacts with Israel”. In spring 2004, Murr claims that his intelligence services dismantled a radical Islamist contraband arms operation in Majdal Anjar, near the Syrian border. The group was suspected of smuggling weapons into Iraq. Fundamentalist Sunni groups then accused investigators of employing heavy-handed interrogation techniques and claimed that one of the arrested smugglers, Ismaïl Khatib, died in prison as a result of being tortured.

According to Lebanese MP and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Mr. Murr entered Rafik Hariri’s inner circle before Hariri’s assassination on February 14, thus becoming a man marked for assassination. Breaking with normal security arrangements, Mr. Murr used camouflaged vehicles for his transportation, says outgoing Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh. Despite extra precautions, he was unsuccessful in outwitting the people behind today’s assassination attempt. His father, MP Michel Murr, who served several times as minister and Vice Premier, escaped a 1985 assassination attempt for which Samir Geagea, leader of the Forces Libanaises was sentenced to life in prison.

It was learned from a political source in Beirut that President Lahoud hoped to see a ministerial post in the new Lebanese government given to his son-in-law.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Likewise in today's Le Monde, and possibly of interest, albeit unrelated to the above:

39 000 Iraqis would have died [from violence] since March 2003

(Just en cas où you'd not caught it)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Yes! I caught it and put it in the timeline for 11 July! Thank you.

8:03 PM  

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