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Lebanon: Killing of policeman ‘professional’

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.

 

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