By Avi Melamed
According to unconfirmed information, from a source I evaluate as fairly reliable, Wafiq Safa, the head of the “Central Liaison and Cooperation Committee” of Hezbollah in Lebanon, was injured at the beginning of the month in an explosion in the Sulm neighborhood in Beirut. It is not clear if it was an assassination plot, but there are reasons to affirm the suspicions.
Safa, born in 1960 in the town of Zibdin in South Lebanon, is the brother-in-law of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. For years he was Hezbollah’s “man in the shadows” – his name was “The Ghost.” He is considered to be a member of the most powerful inner-circle within the organization. His specific title within Hezbollah is vague, yet he holds a very powerful and senior position. He is in charge of all of Hezbollah’s counter-espionage activities in Lebanon. His adversaries say he is the “real boss” in Lebanon.
Safa is also the person in charge of all the exchange deals for dead Israeli soldiers and the one Israeli civilian abducted by Hezbollah. Safa personally handed the dead bodies of the two Israeli soldiers killed in Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli military patrol in July 2006 which sparked a war between Israel and Hezbollah, over to the German mediator.
If the information is accurate that Safa did in fact escape an assassination plot, it is possible that it is connected to an incident that took place a few months ago.
At the end of November 2012 a group of about twenty-five Lebanese Sunni-Jihadist militants entered Syria from Northern Lebanon. The group planned to join the rebels fighting Assad’s troops.
In the area of Talkalch, inside Syrian territory next to the Lebanese-Syrian border, the group was ambushed. Seventeen members of the group were killed, others were imprisoned by the Syrians, and a few escaped. The majority of the fatalities were from the predominately Sunni-Lebanese city of Tripoli. Syria gradually returned the dead bodies to their families by mid-December.
According to uncorroborated information, it was Safa who personally provided General Rafiq Shehadeh, the head of Syrian Military Intelligence, with information about the group – its members, movements, intentions, etc. Based upon Safa’s information, Hezbollah militants disguised as Syrian soldiers ambushed the group.
Hezbollah, which is Shiite, has members – reportedly senior officials – that are being held captive by a Sunni Rebel group in in the area of Ala’aza in Syria since May 2012. (You can read more about this event in my article “Nasrallah Gets a Taste of his Own Bitter Medicine.”) Hezbollah wanted to kidnap Sunnis from Tripoli as a card, so that their families back in Tripoli would put pressure on the Sunni Rebels in Syria to release the Hezbollah prisoners in return for their captured brothers and sons.
Among the Shiite prisoners being held captive since May (according to unconfirmed reports) is Wafiq Safa’s son, Ali.
End of Report