Al Mayadeen's Exclusive Truth Uncovered: Beirut Port Blast Part II
New details were revealed in the second part of Al Mayadeen's exclusive documentary "Truth Uncovered: Beirut Port Blast."
"Truth Uncovered: Beirut Port Blast" documentary, Part II, revealed new details about the security services and official departments' handling of the ammonium nitrates transported by the Rossos ship to the port of Beirut.
The first part of the documentary, which was broadcasted by Al Mayadeen on Monday, mentioned that the Rossos ship had many defects and flaws in its body and that its presence may worsen its conditions, which drove the Lebanese Shipping Control Authority to make recommendations stating that the ship should leave the port. However, many obstacles prevented the ship from leaving Beirut.
"Truth Uncovered- Beirut Port Blast," part I, received a wide interaction and went viral on social media platforms, as the hashtag #رواية_الحقيقة, i.e. Truth Uncovered, was trending and topped the list of hashtags on Twitter.
What did the second part reveal?
In the second part, which was broadcasted Tuesday, the documentary revealed that two years after the presence of the Rossos ship and its cargo in Beirut Port, the Lebanese Army command sent a letter to the Lebanese Customs Administration, demanding a laboratory analysis on a sample of the stored material in Hangar 12.
Later, the then-First Customs Observer submitted a letter to the Port Authority of Beirut’s presidency, reiterating his proposal to immediately hand over the stored material to the Lebanese Army or to re-export them, due to their hazardous nature and the disaster they might cause.
“Truth Uncovered" part II: Shafic Merhe, then-General Director of Customs, urged the relevant Lebanese authorities to re-export the explosive stock or consider selling it, but why was his request rejected? #BeirutBlast #Lebanon pic.twitter.com/IpTB8JavhZ— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) November 23, 2021
Subsequently, the Director-General of the Customs Administration sent a letter to the Judge of Urgent Matters in order to inform him of the follow-up with the Army Command.
Meanwhile, the Rossos ship was still at the port, and its lurking danger warned of a disaster that might hit Beirut at any moment.
In 2018, the Lebanese State Security Agency that entered the port with the aim of fighting corruption discovered large quantities of ammonium nitrate, which is used in manufacturing explosives.
Official departments did not take the necessary measures to remove the danger of this material and the disaster that might befall Beirut if exposed to theft and fire.
On June 3, 2020, Prime Minister Hassan Diab was informed of the presence of the nitrates, and he, in his turn, notified the security services of his intention to visit the port of Beirut to inspect the situation, especially in Hangar 12.
The next day, after arranging the necessary security measures, one of Diab's officers informed him that the nitrates are not dangerous and are nothing but agricultural fertilizers. As a result, the Prime Minister's visit was postponed.
Fast forward to August 4, and upon Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat's decision, a maintenance company was brought to the port to repair a gap in the southern wall of Hangar 12 and to maintain all its gates, especially the 9th, where the Rossos was anchored.
After the maintenance was completed and the maintenance workers left the port, a fire broke out and expanded inside Hangar 12 at 5:30 pm, which resulted in the huge explosion.
How did the documentary contribute?
In response to what Al Mayadeen revealed in "Truth Uncovered- Beirut Port Blast", directed by Shiraz Hayek, which connected the dots and traced back the events that led to the explosion in Beirut Port and documented it, political affairs expert Waseem Bazzi told Al Mayadeen that the documentary revealed all the details concerning the Rossos ship from the moment of its departure till it anchored in Beirut Port.
He questioned the Lebanese Army's decision of not getting rid of the ammonium nitrates present at the Port.
He added that the facts presented by the documentary to the public opinion reveal the extent of the politicization of the investigation file, especially the discretionary manner in summoning the former Minister of the Interior, Nouhad al-Machnouk, and not the former Minister of Justice, Ashraf Rifi.
Dr. Wassim Bazzi to #AlMayadeen: The documentary "Truth Uncovered - Beirut Port Blast", the presumptive decision that will be issued soon, and #Russia's satellite images of the port, will prevent all attempts of politicizing the case.#رواية_الحقيقة#BeirutBlast #Lebanon https://t.co/sDnA2YMIBR— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) November 23, 2021
The documentary exposes how the judiciary mishandled the follow-up of the Beirut Port blast, Bazzi noted.
In the same context, political affairs writer, Ghassan Saoud told Al Mayadeen that the documentary presented documents that exposed two years of lying, fabrication, and falsification of facts by some sides.
Saoud pointed out that Al Mayadeen's documentary succeeded in revealing the identity of the owners of the Rossos ship and its cargo.
He added that Judge Jad al-Maalouf was the one behind the judicial decision to unload the ship's cargo at Beirut Port.
The judge is supported by civil society organizations and is directly responsible for what happened in the Port, Saoud mentioned.
Lebanese journalist Ghassan Saoud to #AlMayadeen: "Some TV channels have been misleading the public opinion regarding the #BeirutBlast investigation for two years."@ghassansaoud#رواية_الحقيقة #Lebanon https://t.co/nl9fzFXVTl— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) November 23, 2021
The political affairs analyst stated that Judge Tariq Bitar is hiding the technical report on the port blast due to political reasons, and his accusations were directed solely at the political team headed by the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, which of course includes Hezbollah.
A certain side that is using the blast as a tool for political and electoral reasons, he stressed.
Saoud said that the judge who is hailed by some as a hero is the one who ordered keeping the ammonium nitrates at the port, and Judge Bitar is actually defending him.
He noted that there is a difference between those who knew about the nitrates in the port and those who had the authority to remove them.
For his part, the former Director-General of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, Major General Ali al-Hajj, called on the judiciary to pursue the truth away from politicization, stressing that the judiciary is the one in charge of getting rid of the danger that existed in the port.
He added that the documents that were highlighted in the documentary confirm that the explosion is not the result of a conspiracy, but rather of negligence, calling on Judge Bitar to present the technical report to the public opinion.
Major General Ali Al-Hajj to #AlMayadeen: "If Al-Mayadeen TV had existed in 2005, I would not have been unjustly imprisoned, and it would have served me justice through a similar documentary to that of the Beirut Port Blast documentary."#BeirutBlast https://t.co/Fp6coOdD2y— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) November 23, 2021
Al-Hajj also questioned Judge Peter Germanos' stepping down from the Beirut Port Blast case.
The head of the National Accord Party in Lebanon, Bilal Taqi al-Din, pointed out to Al Mayadeen that some sides took the investigation to a different path and attempted to mislead it, but the "Truth Uncovered: Beirut Port Blast" documentary revealed the truth through the documents it presented.