Driving past the old St George’s Hotel, where 1800kg of TNT killed Rafic Hariri and 22 other innocent citizens, I was reminded about the reality of terrorist atrocities. More than 12 years after the attack, the Hotel remains in a dilapidated condition, as a dispute over its future continues.
A large sign imploring authorities not to rebuild sits against blackened curtains in glassless frames blown away by the force of the explosion on 14 February 2005. The assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri led to tumultuous political change in Lebanon – but the attack did not succeed with its aim of undermining the fabric of society and democracy.
Of course the Special Tribunal of Lebanon is now hearing the trial in absentia of four defendants – which demonstrates how the rule of law prevails. Beirut is a city with so much history. Buildings are pocked with shrapnel next to smart new designer label shops.
The dichotomy is visibly apparent – but Beirut is a vibrant and exciting city. I met with law enforcement officials who face the reality of smuggling of money across borders and the challenges posed by designated non-financial businesses and professionals (DNFBPs).
With recently enacted legislation on cross border declarations and improving relations with DNFBPs, now is the time for targeted donor engagement to support relevant agencies.
Of course there is the threat of Daesh – who abuse money remittance services and take advantage of deregulation. The need, therefore, is even more apparent to coordinate resources for effective impact.
The memorial to Rafic Hariri and the 22 others at the site of the bombing will be a constant reminder of the tragic loss of life. I hope that the lasting legacy will be that the rule of law is mightier than any act of terrorism.