Michael Totten

Remembering Samir Kassir

The bastards are still active in Beirut.
Samir Kassir – a founding member of Lebanon’s Democratic Left movement and a prominent anti-Syrian journalist for An-Nahar newspaper, was murdered — assasinated – by car-bomb in Beirut, almost certainly by Syrian security agents.
Samir is the first person I have known personally who has been murdered by terrorists. I met him several times when I was in Beirut, twice in the Democratic Left’s headquarters, and once again at a rally. I sat right across from him at a table in that headquarters – as an observer, of course. I can’t say I was scared when I was in Lebanon. I wasn’t, and I wished my wife could have gone with me. But when I sat across from him at those meetings I did feel a bit like I was in the line of fire. I guess I was right.
I can’t say I knew him well, but I did know him. On the surface at any rate, he was a kind, gentle, warm, and welcoming person. Now that he’s dead I will not forget him. When I saw his face in the New York Times I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.
My friend LP at the Lebanese Political Journal (may he not be hit with a car bomb) is outraged at this atrocity.

We’re not asking for bread on every plate. We’re not asking for the oligarchs to give back their money. We just want the shadow authorities to take their boots off of our necks.

Samir dedicated his professional and his private life to ending tyranny in his country. He was an activist as well as a journalist — an honorable combination in an oppressed country like Lebanon — and he died for his efforts.
My condolences to his family and his country.
UPDATE: See Michael Young’s obit for Samir in Reason. Michael, also, is a journalist in Beirut – he’s the opinion page editor at The Daily Star. I met him while I was there, too, and he told me he can get away with criticizing Syria and its spooks because he writes in English rather than Arabic. I hope, for his sake under the circumstances, that he’s right about that.