WORLD

SCOTLAND THE FREE

MICHAEL PETROU September 8 2008
WORLD

SCOTLAND THE FREE

MICHAEL PETROU September 8 2008

Was it by death squad in a garden?

WORLD

PATRICIA TREBLE

Just about the only fact about Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Suleiman’s death that everyone agrees on is that it occurred near the Syrian seaside resort of Tartus at the beginning of August. The two leading assassination theories, which wouldn’t be out of place in james Bond film, have the close aide of President Bashir al-Assad killed by a death squad in his garden or by an offshore sniper while he was at the beach—at the time, his boss was in Iran attempting to improve relations between the two erstwhile allies, which have been strained over Syria’s indirect peace negotiations with Israel.

Since then, speculation over what lay be hind his murder has mounted to a fever pitch. "This is earth-shattering. Since when do we hear of assassinations taking place like this in Syria?" said one government source

to tfle I(euters news agency. "Suleiman was privy to many things." His import ance as a key figure in the Syrian regime was confirmed by the presence at his Aug. 3 funeral of Assad's brother Maher, who controls the presiden tial guard. Some re ports say the 49-yearold was killed for shaking up the secur

This is not the first mysterious death in Syria. In 2005, Ghazi Kanaan, the government’s former key man in Lebanon, apparently killed himself in his office as an international investigation into the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri increasingly pointed toward Syrian involvement. The next year, Kanaan’s brother, Ali, was found dead. According to the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, the powerful Kanaan family believed their deaths weren’t self-inflicted and blamed none other than Suleiman. M

ity services after the February assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, and say disgraced intelligence chief Assef Shawkat was behind the death. Others point the finger at Israel; apparently Suleiman had been supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a draw two years ago in Lebanon. That technology would have threatened the Jew ish nation's dominance of the skies.