The assassination of prominent Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim who was shot to death in the country's southern region raised controversy over a series of other recent murders that remain unsolved by the judiciary with Lebanese activists allegedly labeling some of the cases as political assassinations and linking some to the Beirut port explosion.
Colonel Skaf and Colonel Abou Rjeily
We need answers behind the deaths of Colonel Skaf and Colonel Abou Rjeily— Nicolas Skaf (@NicolasSkaf1) December 3, 2020
نطالب بالتحقيق الشفاف خلف مقتل العقيد سكاف و العقيد ابو رجيلي pic.twitter.com/JFdxg2rqrs
On December 20, 2020, a retired customs officer, Mounir Abu Rjeily, was found dead.
A forensic evidence team came to the crime scene and began investigations, which raised many questions, mainly since a completely similar crime occurred three years ago. The investigation did not lead to any results.
Shortly after the murder of Abu Rjeily, pictures of him surfaced online with Colonel Joseph Skaf who was found dead in the parking of his building three years ago.
After the Beirut port explosion, a leaked document showed that Skaf was the first to warn of ammonium nitrate danger.
On February 21, 2014, he had a telegram directed to the Ministry of Finance's Audit and Search for Smuggling department.
He stated that it is necessary to remove the ship carrying ammonium nitrate outside the port.
Director of Fraud Risk Management at Byblos Bank Antoine Daher
On June 4, 2020, Antoine Daher was found dead in the parking garage of his own home in Hazmieh in a similar incident to Skaf's death.
Dagher was a Group Ethics and Fraud Risk Manager at Byblos Bank.
According to the National News Agency (NNA), he was hit in the head with a sharp tool that fractured his skull. Dagher, who was in his 60s, died instantly.
People close to the victim stated that he “was working on sensitive files by virtue of his position in the bank.”
Military photographer Joseph Bejjani
On December 21 2020, Joseph Bejjani was also found dead in his car in front of his house in Kahala, a security zone where many military centers and the Ministry of Defense are located. Kahala is also in an area close to the presidential palace.
Bejjani worked for the telecommunications company “Alfa” and was also a photographer approved by the Army Command, but according to close associates, he did not work as a photographer, but rather took on photography as a hobby. The sources also confirmed that Bejjani did not receive a salary from the army.
Media circulated information saying that Bejjani has pictures that he gave to the French investigators around Beirut's port related to the explosion.
However, his family later denounced those claims and added that he used to work for the army command occasionally and had good relations with its officers, and if he had pictures, surely the Army Command would have been the one who requested it and was aware of it.
In March of 2020, Antoine al-Hayek was killed inside his small market in the town of Miyeh and Miyeh, on the outskirts of Sidon, in southern Lebanon.
NNA stated that Hayek was killed on the spot as a result of being shot in the head.
Al-Hayek was one of Amer Al-Fakhoury's assistants in Khiam detention camp during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Lebanese officials accused al-Fakhoury of torturing prisoners in the 1990s at a prison run by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.
Hayek's death came a few days after the military court in Lebanon acquitted al-Fakhoury, an American who was jailed for months in Lebanon. A US military helicopter transported Fakhoury from Washington's embassy in Beirut to Cyprus, and from there to the United States.
Al-Fakhoury's release and transport sparked great widespread anger, especially among Hezbollah's supporters.
In June 2013, Hashem Salman, a student activist, was shot dead during a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
The protest was criticizing Hezbollah and Iran's participation in the Syrian conflict. Hashem was shot amid chaos when Hezbollah supporters attacked the peaceful protestors with wooden bats and metal rods.
Even though the incident happened in daylight when media was also present covering the protest, the shooter was never identified.
Cedar Revolution Assassinations
Shortly after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and the Cedar Revolution that followed in 2005, the series of protests which led to the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon ending 15 years of hegemony, a series of assassinations targeting anti-Assad journalists, politicians, and security personnel took place between the years of 2005 and 2012.
Among the politicians assassinated were George Hawi, Pierre Gemayel, Walid Eido, Saleh al-Aridi and Mohammad Chatah. The journalists assassinated during the same period were Gebran Tueni and Samir Kassir. Francois Hajj, Wissam Eid, and Wissam al-Hassan were the security and military personnel targeted.
The Lebanese judiciary has failed to identify any of the killers in all the assassinations.
However, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon charged Hezbollah operative Selim Ayyash with Prime Minister Rafic Hariri's assassination.
Ayyash is facing - in a separate trial - charges of participating in two other failed attacks in 2004 and 2005 against politicians: former minister and resigned MP Marwan Hamadeh and then-defense minister Elias Murr.
He is also facing trial for the assassination of former Secretary-General of the Lebanese Communist Party, George Hawi, who was killed in the attack.