Killing of Sgt. Maj. Ghassan Ajjaj in North Lebanon is ‘professional’
The Daily Star/26.01.15
BEIRUT/MARYATA, Lebanon: Preliminary investigations into the case of a 47-year-old police officer who was shot dead in his car outside his home in a northern Zghorta village suggest that the killing was a targeted assassination carried out by professionals.
First Sgt. Maj. Ghassan Ajjaj, father of four and head of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch in the village of Maryata, was shot in the head with a single bullet late Sunday. According to a security source, the assassin, who positioned himself in the victim’s garden – 10 meters away from the target – shot a single bullet that pierced through the windshield of his car, hit his left eye and exited through the back of his skull. The gunman appeared to have carefully calculated his position, indicating that the killer had previous knowledge of where the victim parks his car. This detail led investigators to believe that the attack was premeditated, and that the killer had monitored the victim prior to firing the shot.The accuracy of the assassin’s aim indicated that the perpetrator was a professionally trained assassin and not your everyday gunman, the source said. The motive behind the murder has evaded investigators. But police are looking into the possibility that the crime was motivated by the Information Branch’s crackdown on terror suspects in Zghorta. Investigators are looking into cases managed by Ajjaj in an attempt to identify the perpetrators. Hamad Ajjaj, the victim’s cousin, told The Daily Star that the officer faced a number of indirect threats before his murder.
In an incident which occurred roughly two years ago, unknown perpetrators torched his car. The victim’s cousin noted that Ajjaj’s position made him highly susceptible to threats and conflicts with a number of people. “Any arrest he made would disturb someone,” he said, adding that he believed the assassination was driven by a similar sentiment. When asked if Ajjaj was working on a sensitive case before his death, the cousin said that investigations are singling out controversial files that could have prompted the attack. The cousin refused to disclose the exact nature of the files until investigations are concluded. The cousin said the crime was “something new to the close-knit community in the village.”“We thought these incidents were far from us,” he said. Another relative, who was present at a funeral ceremony held in Maryata Monday, told The Daily Star that the assassination was a “political and security message.”The relative, who did not want to be identified by name, said Ajjaj was responsible for overseeing the security of zones ranging from Tripoli’s Baddawi neighborhood to the nearby town of Dinnieh when political leaders made visits to the area. In an outpouring of grief, the village of Maryata bid farewell to the ISF officer in a funeral ceremony held at the town’s mosque. The funeral was attended by crowds of the area’s residents, as well as representatives from the country’s security agencies.
ISF Intelligence Officer Gunned Down in Zgharta as Army Seizes Bomb
Naharnet //26.01.15/An Internal Security Forces intelligence officer was killed at dawn Monday after gunmen opened fire at him in the northern district of Zgharta, the ISF and the state-run National News Agency said, while an explosive device was seized later in the day in the region.NNA said Chief Warrant Officer Ghassan Ajaj, 47, died after an armed man shot him near his house in the town of Meryata. According to MTV, Ajaj entered the house’s garage after returning home around 11:00 pm. “He was shot dead by a gunman who was lurking in an orange grove near the house,” MTV added. Ajaj’s wife told the TV network that her husband had said that he sensed that his life was threatened “without revealing any other details.”“He used to switch cars every now and then,” the wife noted. In the evening, MTV reported that “there is a link between the assassination of Ajaj and the investigations into the blasts that targeted al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in Tripoli” in August 2013. Meanwhile, a security source told LBCI television that the officer was murdered “in connection with his work at the ISF Intelligence Bureau.” “His assassination is a terrorist operation and a message to the bureau,” the source said. The ISF said in a communique that Ajaj was shot dead by unknown assailants. He had served in several posts and received medals of honor during his career. He is survived by his wife and four children, it added. However, the communique did not reveal the circumstances of his murder. In another security development in the Zgharta region, the army announced Monday evening that a military intelligence force had raided a room in Zgharta’s Karm al-Tin area where it arrested two Syrian nationals. “An explosive device, four mortar shells, an 83mm rocket, three hand grenades and a quantity of various ammunition were seized at the room,” the army added.