Security Sources Deny Lebanese Politician’s Death Was Political Assassination

Early investigation indicates a carjacking gone wrong

The death of Christian Lebanese Forces local leader Pascal Sleiman in the city of Jbeil led hundreds of party supporters to block roads, and the party was quick to claim Sleiman was the victim of political assassination for his opposition to Hezbollah.

Not so, say security sources, who insist there was “no apparent political motive” to Sleiman’s death, and officials have urged locals to show restraint. Some other security officials said they are continuing to treat the incident as an assassination, pending further inquiry.

The alternative narrative was that a Syrian gang killed Sleiman in a carjacking gone wrong. Sleiman was driving through part of Jbeil, an area known for car theft, and the attackers confronted him there.

Sleiman got in a physical altercation over the carjacking, ended up dying of his wounds, and was stuffed in the trunk of his car. The attackers took the car and fled into Syria, trying to escape capture. His body is to be returned on Tuesday.

Officials say seven Syrian gang members were arrested over the killing, four of them believed to be directly involved.

Interior Minister Mawlawi called for restraint among people pending further investigation but did say that he sees the incident as a “signal” that Lebanon needs to greatly restrict the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the country.

A protracted war left a lot of Syrians fleeing abroad to seek refugee status. An estimated 785,000 refugees are being hosted within Lebanon, of which some 90% currently rely on some form of government aid.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about doing something about the Syrian refugees, with Mawlawi saying, “We are seeing more crimes committed by Syrians.” Sunday’s incident in Jbeil seems to be tailor-made to make more of this issue.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.