Lebanon (Asharq al-Awsat and agencies) – At rally in support of critically injured journalist May Chidiac, Pierre Daher, the head of LBCI television, where the journalist presented a talk show, urged the authorities on Thursday to hand over Chidiac”s case and those of “other victims of targeted killings and explosions to the United Nations in order to launch an international investigation.”
Earlier on Wednesday, FBI agents were seen for the first time taking part in the search for clues.
Until now, Lebanon had shied away from seeking direct U.S. assistance, although federal agents investigated a bombing in June and a U.N. probe is under way in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in February.
But the difficulty the government has encountered in identifying those behind the explosions since Hariri”s murder has led authorities to turn to Washington for help. Not a single arrest has been made in connection with the blasts.
FBI agents picked through metal fragments and lifted fingerprints from the site where a bomb tore through a car on Sunday belonging to the anchorwoman near the port city of Jounieh north of Beirut.
Three FBI agents examined the destroyed vehicle. Wearing gloves, one sifted through debris and collected fragments while another shot pictures. A third took notes. Journalists were kept behind a police cordon; team members declined to respond to requests for comment.
A black box carried by a team member was marked "explosives unit" and bore the Washington address of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Daher’s comments were made at a tribute ceremony held in honor of Chidiac at LBCI”s headquarters in Adma, a television station that has taken a line against Syria. The ceremony held north of Beirut was attended by her colleagues who held bouquets of white roses, and by a host of media personalities and political figures.
Daher indicated that he had spoken to President Emile Lahoud, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and the Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the Justice Minsiter Charles Rizk to this effect.
Marcel Ghanem, a prominent journalist at the station, presided over the meeting and addressed the injured journalist. Chidiac then appeared on a giant screen in an archived program wearing black. She addressed the crowd and said, “Good morning”, her signature phrase.
Also present at the ceremony was Minister of Information Ghazi Aridi who emphasized that “Lebanon will remain the country of freedom,” adding, “Many blame the media for recent events in Lebanon because they fear freedom, diversity and democracy in Lebanon.”
Chidiac an anchorwoman for LBCI, a channel critical of Syria’s domination of Lebanon, was targeted on Sunday night by a bomb planted under her car seat.
She was critically hurt in the blast and lost her left leg and arm. She remains in a “critical but stable condition” at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut. The attack provoked widespread condemnation in Lebanon and protests by Lebanese youth have been organized in support for the maimed journalist.
American involvement remains a sensitive issue for the Lebanese government. It is opposed by Hezbollah, whose deputy secretary general Amin Qassem warned of the dangers of such cooperation.
In Damascus, the government warned of the dangers of a civil strife that might engulf Lebanon and Syria, indicating the latest terrorist operations in Lebanon were part of a plan to destabilize the region, adding that Syria would not be silent in the face of the recent accusations that it was behind a state of political bombings.