Beirut car bomb kills son of Palestinian leader Jibril

It was the fear that showed most, in the eyes of the security men, the barber up the road, the girl in the florist halfway down Sharia Mama – Mother Street – when the smoke had cleared. Jihad Jibril, a man whose family nameresonates back to the dark days of Lebanon's civil war, was dead.

A clap of sound, a man called Mosbeh Mohamed Ali who saw a white car flying through the air, and a litter of human remains, ripped intestines on the roadway, a right arm in a garage, part of a torso hanging from the smoking vehicle. It was the old, bad Beirut back again, the Beirut of car bombs and assassinations, the Beirut of fear.

At first, of course, we didn't know who the dead man was. The arm was taken away to be fingerprinted, the remains of a mobile phone picked out of someone's garden. Beirut's top explosives officer – a very intelligent, sharp man with a terrible taste for pink jackets – thought the car had travelled a hundred metres before two kilos of explosives beneath the driver's seat exploded. Was he transporting the bomb? And who was supposed to die?

That's why people in Beirut were frightened. In this city, if a bomb is being moved around, it means a lot of people are involved, that there must be more than one bomb. Then we learnt that the white Peugeot, Lebanese registration number 108790, had been seen parked earlier behind an antique furniture store at the top of the street. And by midday, we all knew that the grisly stumps and bits of flesh belonged to Jihad Jibril, the 38-year-old son of one of the great and ruthless revolutionaries of the old PLO and commander in Lebanon of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Now the grizzled old Ahmed Jibril lives in Damascus. So what was his son doing in the centre of Beirut? Was he collecting explosives or did his enemies decide to destroy him? Enemies? Well, there are plenty among the Palestinians – Yassir Arafat and Jibril the Elder have little time left for each other – and the Israelis have no love for the young men of the PFLP-GC. Jibril senior's men in Damascus of course blamed Israel. In April, nine PFLP-GC men tried to attack Israel across the Lebanese border – which made the Lebanese very fearful. Last year, Jibril senior acknowledged sending a load of weapons to the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

So there were the usual shaking of heads in Sharia Mama, the lighting up of too many cigarettes by the detectives. Jibril held lieutenant-colonel's rank in the PFLP-GC in Lebanon but was also studying law at a Beirut university. He left a wife and two small children. "The response for the assassination will be on the same scale," one of his comrades announced ominously. "But time and circumstances will decide the nature of the operation."

Those were words from the bad old Beirut which we saw in January when Elie Hobeika and two bodyguards were killed by a bomb for which Lebanese blamed Israel and which Israel, of course, denied.

Sometimes, the bad old Beirut seems to be just below the surface, a few feet below us, at the depth of a grave.

* Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the PFLP, who is in prison under British and US supervision may have masterminded a suicide bombing which killed three Israelis on Sunday, according to a government official. It is the first public sign of tension over the arrangements for his imprisonment, along with five other Palestinians, last month in return for the end of the siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters. Israeli media reports say he has access to a mobile phone in his cell and has had visits from activists.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before