Discover more from House of Wisdom
Anti-Hezbollah activist assassinated
But don't expect UN Human Rights Council or US media to take notice
Note — Hours after the murder of Slim in Lebanon, I wrote the article below and emailed it to America’s mainstream media. I heard back from none. By now, I have a feeling that the Middle East policy under the Democrats — and with them big media outlets — is going to be the reverse of America’s traditional policy. Democrats want to replace US allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — with Iran. Everywhere else around the globe, US foreign policy under Biden will remain as it was under Trump. —
In Lebanon, Lokman Slim was found dead with five bullets from a silencer. Lokman was a dear friend. He was an intellectual, a publisher and an anti-Hezbollah activist. He was more enigmatic because he was Shia, the Muslim sect that Hezbollah and Iran claim to represent.
Lokman regularly visited the United States, and met with foreign policy wonks and administration officials. He used to hold meetings during the day, and I would join him in the evening. I have memories with him everywhere in Washington, on Adams Morgan, U Street, Connecticut Avenue, and even in New Orleans where we once attended a conference on the Middle East. In summer, on my annual visit to see family and friends in Lebanon, Lokman was always on the top of my list.
Lokman led delegations of anti-Hezbollah Shia from Lebanon, to Washington, and organized meetings for them with administration officials to show the US government that there were Lebanese who wanted the Hezbollah militia disbanded, and strove for democracy and freedom.
Lokman worked hard to show the world that even if Iran and its militias, such as Hezbollah, managed to sabotage democracy in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East, that did not mean that there no Lebanese, Iraqis and Syrians who were willing to risk their lives for democracy and freedom.
On one of his trips to Washington, in May 2008, Hezbollah invaded Lebanon to subdue its political rivals. The quick round of war forced the Beirut Airport to shut down and Lokman and his Shia friends were stuck in Washington. Over the span of two weeks, we gathered at coffeeshop on DC’s 17th Street, across from the Executive Building, and talked about dreams of freedom, democracy and liberty. They wished the White House could give them a hand in getting rid of the the pro-Iran militias.
Lokman often invited US ambassadors to the house he had inherited in the heartland of Hezbollah. In response, Hezbollah thugs shamed him, slandered him, and threatened him. Last year, they invaded his house — while he was away — and terrorized his family. They then started posting threatening notes on his door. One of those notes described how easy it was to use a silencer.
Like all his other friends, I always blamed Lokman for acting relaxed with Hezbollah’s threats against his life. He answered all of us that “a freeman never dies.”
Lokman’s assassination was only the second time that a Shia was killed in Lebanon. Since 2005, over two dozen anti-Hezbollah politicians — including Prime Minister Rafic Hariri — lawmakers, ministers, journalists and activists have been assassinated. A UN tribunal has indicted five leaders of Hezbollah in Hariri’s murder. The other crimes remained without trial, their perpetrators at large. But all these crimes targeted non-Shia Lebanese.
The only other Shia killed in Lebanon was Hashem Salman, an activist who joined a crowd that protested, in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, the intervention of Iranian militias in the wars in Syria and Iraq. A group of Hezbollah thugs, armed with sticks, showed up and started beating the protesters to disperse them. Salman held his ground and the thugs beat him to death, their faces showing on cameras. None of them was brought to justice.
So freedom fighters in Lebanon and Iraq are standing up to Iran and its militias. In both countries, Iran and Hezbollah have responded with the only way they know: Murder.
In July, another friend of mine, Husham Al-Hashimi, was shot dead in Baghdad. I had met Husham at a conference in Tunis, and we immediately became friends. Like Lokman, Husham told me about his dreams that, one day, the Iranian nightmare will be gone, and that the Lebanese and the Iraqis will live in peace and build their democracy.
The UN Human Rights Council flew a commission that investigated the horrible death of Khashoggi in Istanbul, a crime that was extensively covered in the US media. Films were even made about the late Saudi journalist. But — for reasons I cannot fathom — don’t expect the UN, the US media, or the world to do much about the victims of Iran in Beirut and Baghdad.
We will eulogize Lokman like we did Husham, alone, at home, and hope one day, there will be justice, and that one day, the Iranian regime and its militias will be gone, and the countries that suffer from their tyranny will be free and democratic.