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
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral