On August 18, 2020, the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to deliver justice in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, issued its verdict. The tribunal convicted senior Hizbullah operative Salim 'Ayyash of involvement in the murder, but acquitted three other Hizbullah members due to insufficient evidence.
Responding to the verdict in his column in the Lebanese Al-Nahar daily, journalist 'Ali Hamada wrote that, although the tribunal did not convict all four defendants, it is wrong to say that it cleared Hizbullah or the Syrian regime of responsibility for the assassination, because the defendant who was convicted, Salim 'Ayyash, is a senior Hizbullah official to this day. Moreover, he said, a close reading of the verdict leads to the conclusion that Hizbullah was involved in the crime and committed it as an agent of the Bashar Al-Assad regime and of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Hamada added that Hizbullah has occupied Lebanon and controls it using its agents and subordinates, and that it is the embodiment of terror and intimidation, responsible for the severe crisis in Lebanon and for its isolation in the Arab and international community. He called on Lebanon's government and president to arrest Salim 'Ayyash, who was tried in absentia and is still at large, and bring him to justice, even at the cost of a confrontation with Hizbullah. He also called on the Lebanese to appeal to the international community and show it that there are still voices in Lebanon that oppose Hizbullah.
'Ali Hamada (source: Aljadeed.tv)
The following are translated excerpts from Hamada's article:
"Although the [supporters] of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri were angry that the special tribunal investigating his murder was unable to gather sufficient decisive evidence to convict all [four] defendants, and although [the verdict] did not mention [certain other individuals] associated with this terrorist crime, it is nevertheless a mistake to claim that the tribunal acquitted Hizbullah and the Syrian regime of the crime. This is because the defendant who was convicted based on decisive evidence that convinced the tribunal [of his guilt, namely Salim 'Ayyash,] is closely associated with Hizbullah and was part of [this organization's] security apparatus. 'Ayyash was a close associate of Mustafa Badr Al-Din, who [before being killed] was Hizbullah's second highest ranking military and security chief. Moreover, whoever examines all parts of the verdict discovers that the tribunal placed the [assassination] in a terroristic political context and associated it with motives of the Syrian regime and Hizbullah.
"Hence, Rafiq Al-Hariri's supporters and the broader independent circles [in Lebanon] are wrong to think that the verdict exonerated Hizbullah or the [Syrian] regime, for Salim 'Ayyash continues to be a Hizbullah security chief wanted for a grievous crime, and the world understands that a large apparatus planned [this crime] and devoted considerable resources to it. [Furthermore,] Hizbullah did not renounce Salim 'Ayyash at any stage. On the contrary, it regards him as one of the organization's 'saints'! [Similarly], the members of Hizbullah are wrong to rejoice as they did two days ago when the verdict was published, because the tribunal did accuse Hizbullah, in some manner, of perpetrating this terrorist crime, and everybody understands that [Hizbullah] committed this crime as an agent of Bashar Al-Assad's regime and Iran's [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards [Corps]. When the public… calls on Hizbullah to turn Salim 'Ayyash in, it clearly places responsibility for Al-Hariri's murder on Hizbullah. Everyone who fought for the establishment of this tribunal respects the verdict that was published.
"Hizbullah has demonstrated once again to what extent it is one of the elements that are always fomenting civil war [in Lebanon], whether by means of assassinations, or through the political intimidation it has been practicing for years, or even by maintaining a sort of secret internal occupation that hides behind whoever holds the positions of prime minister, parliament speaker and president, and behind various political parties…
"Whoever reads the verdict on the murder of Rafiq Al-Hariri calmly and in depth senses how forcefully it [condemns] the murderers, despite the many loopholes that can be detected in it. But the more important point, as far as we are concerned, is for Lebanon's government and presidency to fulfill their duty of arresting the criminal Salim 'Ayyash and bringing him to justice, even [at the cost of] confrontation with Hizbullah, which, in the hearts and minds of most Lebanese, has been and will continue to be the embodiment of terror and intimidation and the weapon of treason inside and outside [Lebanon]… [Most Lebanese also hold Hizbullah] responsible for the great collapse currently experienced by Lebanon, which it has hijacked by force, for its isolation in the Arab world and international community, for the destruction of the state and its institutions, and for the systematic and dangerous transformation of [Lebanon's] identity. Regardless of its responsibility for Al-Hariri's murder, Hizbullah will continue to be the very embodiment of threat to the future of all Lebanese, especially [to the future] of its own supportive environment, for which it has done nothing in the past four decades except bring upon it a steady stream of wars, internal conflicts and [constant] isolation…
"It is time to make our voices heard, first of all by circumventing President [Michel 'Aoun] and his [Free National] Current, who are directly subordinate to Hizbullah, its policy, its commitments [to its allies] and its agenda; secondly, by appealing to the international community and to the Arab world in order to say that there is an independent, sovereign and unique voice in Lebanon that opposes the occupation of the state [by Hizbullah]; and thirdly, in order to unite the independent and sovereign camp after a long period in which it was fragmented…"
 Al-Nahar (Lebanon), August 19, 2020.