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July 2, 2011

Lebanonwire

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Top suspect in Hariri murder familiar name in Kuwait jail

KUWAIT - Mustapha Badreddine, one of four Hezbollah members whose names are included in the indictment report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, is well-known to Kuwait's security authorities due to his involvement in terrorist incidents in the Gulf nation in the early eighties.

Most people in Kuwait are more familiar with him by his alias 'Elias Al-Saab,' the extremist who forced his strong personality on guards and inmates of the Central Prison where he served time for the bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait back in 1983, in which 63 people died.

Badreddine, who used the 'Elias Al-Saab' pseudonym to enter Kuwait earlier in the year, was arrested one month after the attacks when he was caught loitering suspiciously around the then-state security headquarters in Dasman. He was subsequently jailed for his involvement in planting explosive material on the trucks that targeted the two embassies, as well as the Shuaiba power plant.

In jail, Badreddine, an amputee with a wooden leg, quickly became best known for his aggressive attitude. At one point, he attacked a guard, slashing him across the face with a sharp razor; during questioning about the incident, he told officers that he had actually wanted to "cut [the guard's] head off." Badreddine also told the prosecutor in his case that he didn't recognize Kuwait's sovereignty.

Saab was very hardheaded, and I was always caught off guard by is barbaric way of speaking", said the social supervisor assigned to handle Badr Badreddine's case at the time. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official recalled that Badreddine addressed him by the moniker 'Bright lightning,' rather than using his name or job title. "He would threaten me constantly, either with harm to myself or my family members who, surprisingly enough, he knew the names of," the official added.

Eventually, 'Bright lightning' grew so concerned at the repeated threats against him that he asked Badr Badreddine's fellow detainee, Yousef Al-Musawi, to intervene. "Al-Musawi was the leader of the group that committed the bombings," the official explained. "After obtaining enough information to confirm this truth, I realized that asking him to explain to Saab that my duty there was only to help was the only way to make the threats stop.

In 1988, top Hezbollah militant Imad Mughniya led an operation in which a Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) plane was hijacked in Bangkok, Thailand and forced to fly to Algeria with more than 110 people on board. One of the hijacker's demands was to ensure that Al-Musawi and Badr Badreddine - who were serving life terms in Central Prison over the 1983 - were released. "When [Mughniya] called for Al-Musawi's picture first, I realized that he was more important to Mughniya than Saab," the social supervisor said.

Mustapha Badreddine remained in prison for a further two years after that hijacking, however, until the 1990 Iraqi Invasion when he blew off the door of his cell using explosives assembled from basic materials, including chicken bones, salt and cockroaches. "Notes containing similar bomb-making instructions were found on several inmates during Saab's detention," the official explained.

When asked about their sources, all the inmates said they got them from Saab," he continued, adding that Badreddine was considered a headache by the guards for many reasons, including his habit of "welding plastic pen lids into door locks on a daily basis.

Ever since his escape, Badr Badreddine has risen steadily in Hezbollah's ranks. He is believed to currently be Hezbollah's top military commander, replacing his former brother-in-law, Imad Mughniya, who was assassinated in Damascus, Syria in 2008. His contributions are perceived as essential to Hezbollah's military advancement, mainly in the field recruiting people for the "resistance force" in both Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as creating security breaches in the Israeli army.

Arabic Source: Alrai

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