Editor’s note: The author, D.W. Sanders, is a chemical facility vulnerability inspector for the Department of Homeland Security. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Clarion Project.
BY D.W. SANDERS
Hezbollah blew up the port of Beirut. Here are the facts as we know them and some underlying intelligence as support. Early last week on August 3, the United Nations Security Council issued a directive to the Lebanese government to either rein in Hezbollah or face further sanctions.
Hezbollah has a large footprint in the port of Beirut as referenced not only in UN documents but in Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the UN in 2018.
Tuesday August 4, the Port of Beirut goes up in a massive series of small to horrendous explosions.
Ammonium nitrate is a Class 4 chemical, which means it is almost harmless in storage bag form, or as in this case, fertilizer form.
It takes four components to make ammonium nitrate explode.
Ammonium nitrate is the first component and acts as an oxidizer to a fuel, which is the second component. Any fuel can react with ammonium nitrate from grease to gas and anything in between.
The third component is a chamber, drum or something where the fuel and oxidizer can react to form a vapor or cloud.
The fourth component is the ignition which creates the “big bang” and subsequent damage.
In this case, the warehouse, Hangar 2, was known as a bomb-making facility for Hezbollah. Benzene was likely the fuel, metal and/or plastic canisters were used as the “drum,” ammonium nitrate was the oxidizer and thus became the heavy explosive. The ignition was likely set up to be remotely detonated by cell phone or battery timer.
For years, Hezbollah has used ammonium nitrate bombs as their weapon of choice:
- In May 2020, the German government was tipped off about two warehouses where Hezbollah stashed hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate
- In 2018 in London, a cache of three tons of ammonium nitrate was found belonging to Hezbollah
- In 2015, a Canadian-Lebanese Hezbollah member was found on the island of Cyprus with eight tons of ammonium nitrate stored in his home
- In January 2012, a Swedish-Lebanese member of Hezbollah was arrested with 4.5 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in his house in Thailand
- In 2009, Ali Kourani, a U.S. Lebanese national and member of Hezbollah, was traced to China where he was pursuing purchasing large amounts of ammonium nitrate
- October 1983, Hezbollah blew up U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut using ammonium nitrate
- 2017, a Hezbollah operative was arrested and charged in Panama with plotting to blow up the Panama Canal with ammonium nitrate
We know the warehouse in the Port of Beirut housed a large quantity of ammonium nitrate. It also held an unknown quantity of fuel canisters, most likely benzene, a Class 1 hydrocarbon (the most volatile of all the classes). It is extremely flammable and a known carcinogen.
The warehouse was also home to a large quantity of fireworks. With all of these components stored together, what could possibly go wrong?
Now, let’s discuss the port area itself. The Lebanese government is largely Sunni Muslim. The port area of Beirut is largely Sunni Muslim and quite industrialized, in that this is a shipping port and the only deep-water port in Lebanon.
It is also the area most “modernized,” with its shops, cafés, bars and hotels exhibiting a decidedly Western influence. None of this seems to be compliant with the devout Shiite Muslim world of Hezbollah — except to import and export needed components to further the ideals of Iran and its proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas, et al).
If Hezbollah was ever to be an importer and exporter of terrorism to the free world, the Port of Beirut would be the perfect port city for its operations, since Iran’s ports are constantly exposed and watched by satellite imagery, as are most Shiite- controlled states.
Europe is just a stone’s throw from Beirut; the port provides good cover for its ships transporting its much-desired cargo for nefarious operations in and out of Europe and even the Baltics.
The president of Lebanon issued a statement on Saturday that the explosion was not accidental, but rather ignited by a “rocket or bomb.” However, he did not attribute the explosion to any specific organization.
Also, on Saturday a top Hezbollah leader and his daughter were found dead in Iran from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Sunday, the information minister of Lebanon resigned due to extreme pressure from within the government.
Monday the entire Lebanese government resigned.
Those are the facts, now my take:
Hezbollah was using this warehouse, Hangar 2 as a bomb-making facility. This is based on intelligence reports from several sources within the U.S., Israel and Lebanon.
All the needed pieces were stored in the warehouse to make ammonium nitrate bombs. The port was the perfect place to assemble and export bombs to Hamas in the Gaza Strip or to Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon by truck.
This also gave a great port to Iran and their proxies to move in and out of — virtually undetected. (The port area is desensitized to the point that “no one cares” what traffic moves through it except to bring European and Western clothing, electronics, food and Nikes to the Sunni populace.)
If Hezbollah was exposed in the port, they simply ignite some fireworks, get out of Dodge and let the explosions cover their tracks … taking out a few bars, shops, a car or two and maybe even ridding the world of some hated infidel Sunnis.
Just maybe they get away with it and the state of Lebanon gets the message that Hezbollah runs things.
Hezbollah has said many times that they would bomb the port of Haifa, Israel with an ammonium nitrate bomb.
It doesn’t appear that anyone knew the explosive potential that was in the warehouse. Had that been a minor fire and explosion, the cleanup crews would take care of any remaining evidence. As we now know…. any evidence has either vaporized in the two-kilometer impact zone or is 70 meters deep in the harbor.