Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Lebanon is a dangerous place. Bombs, riots, shootings. That's why I was taken out by the flu... In bed for almost four days. Fever, sweat, hallucinations...Finally I was making sense, my cat told me.

But your reporter is, for the full 99 percent, back! Cured by heavy doses of hardcore Mid East medicines Harryzzzz feels pretty good again.

Although it was pretty wanky by some elements in society to start trouble (on Sunday) while this reporter was swimming in his own sweat, it is understandable that some Lebanese just can not live a day without trouble. I salute this attitude.

So Harryzzz message to the troublemakers in the country: Thou art granted permission to start again!

Our motto: Let the sneakiest bastard win the battle for Lebanon!

Harald Doornbos

Friday, January 25, 2008


I've just come back from the place where a bomb exploded, on Friday morning. Pretty messy. According to officials 6 dead, although I only arrived at the scene around 40 minutes after the attack took place and all victims were already taken away by ambulances. Due to an enormous traffic mess, I could not reach the place quicker.

At the scene: Around 30 cars destroyed - right under and next to a flyover where the main Hazmiye highway runs. For the moment, highway is sealed off by the cops, but the section of this main Beirut highway did not collapse.

As usual - one or two cars fully destroyed (probably the targeted vehicle and the car carrying the bomb). Lots of other vehicles around the place also very much damaged and or burnt out.

Drama at the scene as people who were looking for relatives, started screaming and crying. One man had to be calmed down by five soldiers, another woman fainted.

As I'm not home yet, I can't upload any pics or the little video i shot. This i'll do later today, although its nothing special.

At the moment: Army and police are setting up checkpoints all around the city. Police vehicles drive around with loud screaming cops in it using megaphones to order people not to park their cars on main roads.

Yesterday, there was a transport strike which got ugly as Hezbollah supporters started throwing rocks at the army and enjoyed harassing journalists (like harryzzz!). Today a car bomb. For Sunday and Monday further protests announced by the opposition....what a mess here.

Here a accurate story with more details on todays attack from the BBC website (www.bbc.co.uk):

At least six people have been killed in a powerful car bombing in an eastern suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

A senior member of the police intelligence unit and another officer were among the dead, police say.

Lebanese TV footage of Hazmieh, a mainly Christian suburb in eastern Beirut, showed a blackened crater and many tangled and burning cars.

Beirut has witnessed a string of bomb attacks since 2004, many targeting members of the anti-Syrian movement.

The dead police official, Wissam Eid, was a technical expert in the Internal Security Forces who had been investigating the past bombings, local media said.

Main route

TV pictures showed what appeared to be the aftermath of a large blast causing damage over a considerable area at a junction in east Beirut.

Emergency workers were filmed putting out fierce fires in vehicles at junction near one of the main highways through the capital.

The blast comes at a time of political crisis in Lebanon between rival pro-Syrian and pro-Western parties which has prevent the election of a president for more than two months.

Lebanon's western-backed government says the bombings are a message from Syria, although Damascus denies it and condemns the killing.

The country has also been rocked by an uprising by Islamist militants in the north and attacks on UN peacekeepers in the south.

Ten days ago, a car bomb damaged a US diplomatic car in eastern Beirut, killing at least three bystanders, and last month the army's chief of operations was assassinated by similar means.

Harald Doornbos

Monday, January 21, 2008


I had no idea that so many people, especially in Holland, got so exited about my little Ashura video (see post below). This, huh, cinematic masterpiece, is currently ranked as the 8th most watched video on Youtube (in section: News and Politics). More people have watched Ashura than Larry Kings interview with some UFO nutters (currently ranked 13th).

A couple of points though:

- Many muslim-haters in the West watched my video, saw the blood and decided: These guys must be f***** insane! Yes, Ashura is pretty bloody, but it has been around for 1400 years. When you are so into muslim-bashing and the Clash of Civillizations - I find it pretty f***** insane you did not know about Ashura.

- Ever visited concerts, rave parties, disco's in Holland or the rest of Europe? Well, 6000 people - in trance - dancing like weirdo's. Shi'ites just perform the ritual once a year, most muslim-bashers every Friday- and Saturday night. And believe me, the amount of vomit at these parties exceeds the amount of blood during Ashura.

- The Ashura boys in Nabatiye do NOT hit their heads until it starts bleeding. No! What actually happens is this: A friend or family member uses a knife and makes a little cut on the top of the head. This hurts as much as receiving an injection hurts. The immediate result though is that the blood gushes out and before you can say Haile Selassie your face is drenched in blood. So it is not painful at all. Yes, some participants faint or need medical care, but this is due to blood loss, not pain.

- It seems bloody but Ashura is absolutely non-violent. And nobody forces you to participate. In Nabatiye, I never felt even remotely threatened by the people. Everybody was polite and friendly. Compare that to attending a soccer match in Europe....

- More and more people in the West can't deal with globalization. Terrified by change and scared of everything alien, many only react with hatred and condemnation to anything outside their own reality. Of course, Ashura has been going on for 1400 years. But until recently, nobody in the West ever knew about it, heard of it or saw it. With TV and the Internet it is all different now. Ashura, suddenly, on your computer in your living room in Amsterdam, with Muslims living around the corner???? No context, no knowledge. The primal response: This is sick, these people must be mad...and terrorists of course.

The funny thing though is that many people in the Middle East would respond with equal disgust, or at least surprise, the moment I would ask them to watch the following Dutch carnival song called Ko zak door! or Ko get drunk!.

Or what about this video: Vomiting during the LOVE Parade in Essen, Germany. You still think Ashura is strange?

Every society has its own weird stuff. In some places it is called Ashura, somewhere else carnival, in a third spot the Love Parade.

Whatever. As long as people aren't killing each other or forcing others to join in - it seems all OK to me.

The magic of modernity is to be able to realize that the earth rotates at a dazzling speed. The reason we do not fall off is not because we stand still or try to hide. The only reason we survive is because its speed is constant.

Harald Doornbos

Saturday, January 19, 2008


It is Ashura today, so I visited this morning Nabatye, a shiite city in Lebanon's south. Nabatye is well known for its bloody commemoration of the death of Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Strangely, this is, more or less, the only place in Lebanon where shiites cut their heads and mourn in such a bloody fashion. In Beirut, for instance, Shiites just hold parades, visit mosques and Ashura halls.

So yes - Nabatye on Saturday was bloody. I need to wash my pants and jacket because its all covered with blood stains.

Here is the video (click twice to start it):

Here are two handy links on Ashura:

What is Ashura? HERE

How to remove blood stains? HERE

Harald Doornbos

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Seeing is believing, the saying goes.

But some bloggers are rather stubborn. And silly.

Remember yesterday's bombing in which unknown terrorists tried to blow up a US embassy vehicle but instead killed three innocent Lebanese motorists?

Well, according to the writer at Beirutspring, a normally rather clever blog on Lebanon, the US embassy car was carrying diplomatic licence plates.

Or, as Beirutspring writes: "An large explosion in the Karantina Area in Beirut targeted a car with an American embassy plate. No Americans were killed."

Yeah right...

I was at the scene of the bombing and, of course, saw the US vehicle. Either I am turning mental, or Beirutspring strongly supports ignorance. Because the number plate of the US vehicle I saw was very much a regular Lebanese one. You know, white with blue.

So I posted a picture of the car (including a view of the Lebanese number plate) on my blog. I also posted a video (in which you can see that the embassy car carries a regular plate). And I wrote down my eye witness account describing the vehicle and its numberplate.

Well, most of us would be convinced by this, I believe.

Not Beirutspring guy though.

Especially since Beirutspring blogger himself linked to my little video of the aftermath of the attack, I was surprised to learn he had not corrected his mistake. So I wrote a comment on his blog, informing him that it really wasn't a diplomatic number plate.

I mean, why create rumors, confusion in a part of the world where everything is already a conspiracy and conspiracy theories are more popular than, let's say, the Da Vinci Code (oops, wrong example, Da Vinci Code is banned in Lebanon).

Beirutspring's response to my comment: "This blog only". What he meant was, well, only harryzzz mentions the civilian number plate, nobody else. Of course Beirutspring knows better, as he doesn't even live in Lebanon, let alone visited the scene of the attack....

And this is exactly the problem with most of the (political) bloggers in this world. They actually never do anything. They don't report, they don't leave their house, they don't call, they don't investigate.

The only thing non-journalist bloggers have, is their opinion.

So they endlessly write opinion pieces for their own blogs and mix it with vague rumors or "facts" they find on the Internet. Like the "fact" that it was a diplomatic number plate. Really, I wouldn't be surprised if Robert Fisk is gonna write a 1800 page book called: PITY THE DIPLOMATIC VEHICLE - a short history of plate manipulations by the CIA in Lebanon.

So if a picture, a video and an eye witness account aren't enough, what then is enough? I really don't know. Recently the Iranians claimed an American made video of Iranian speedboats in the Perian Gulf was fake, and in the Dutch village where I spend my childhood, most people still think the landing on the moon was done in a studio. Remember my video, a couple of months ago, of the Flying Terrorist in Nahr al Bared camp, northern Lebanon? After I put it on youtube, it generated not only hundreds of thousands of hits, but also almost a thousand comments.

Some of these comments read: Yes, i know this video, it is an Israeli attack on Gaza.

Anyhow. Blogs are great if you want opinion, but for reports and facts....please stick to the real media not to some guy who only sits behind his computer.

By the way: The license plate of the US embassy vehicle is: Liban - B 192994

Harald Doornbos

Right click and open in a new window the Beirutspring story HERE

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


As I live about 800 meters away from the place where a US embassy vehicle and other cars were blown up today in the Lebanese capital Beirut, I drove/ran towards the scene immediately after I heard a very loud bang. Took my video camera with me.

Total death toll stands now at three people killed, over 10 wounded. As I could see it, there was ONE embassy vehicle hit by the blast. Here is a little 2 minute or so clip of what I saw (double click inside the frame to start the video):

Harald Doornbos


I just came back from the scene of a bomb attack on an American embassy convoy, which took place 55 minutes ago around 800 meters from my house, here in Beirut.

At least two vehicles were hit by a powerful bomb. At the time of the attack, I heard a huge explosion. Many windows in my street are broken. I drove to the scene immediately.

At the scene the following:

Blast happened in an area of East-Beirut, called QARANTINA

Total of around ten vehicles were affected by the bomb.

One vehicle totally destroyed by the blast. It was impossible to see what kind of car this was. Inside two dead and charred bodies.

Close to the fully wrecked car with the bodies another vehicle, also pretty much affected. Nobody inside this vehicle, no traces of blood.

In front of both these cars (70 meters), an ARMOURED US EMBASSY Chevrolet (see picture above, done with my mobile so not very good quality). Medium destroyed by the blast. Vehicle had Lebanese number plates. How do I know it was an armoured car? Well, I knocked on the windows.

(this is a continuing story - come back for frequent updates)

Harald Doornbos

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Interview with Benazir Bhutto´s sister in law, Ghinwa Bhutto

I am currently in Pakistan. Some days ago I interviewed (over the phone) Benazir Bhutto´s sister in law, Ghinwa Bhutto.

Here is the story:

She has just returned from the funeral, on Friday December 28th, of her sister in law, Benazir Bhutto. Her attendence there was, in some ways, a small miracle. Because Ghinwa Bhutto isn’t only family of Benazir Bhutto, she is also her bitter rival.

This is Dallas and Dynasty – the Pakistani way.

Because Ghinwa and Benazir did not speak to each other for years. Even worse: Ghinwa, who was married to Benazir’s brother Murtaza Bhutto, has for years campaigned against Benazir and her spouse Asif Ali Zardari. This because she accuses Zardari of involvement in the murder of her husband Murtaza.

"But on Friday Benazir was no longer my political enemy," she says, in a telephone interview from the Bhutto residence in the Pakistani town of Larhkana near Karachi, "From that moment, she was again the daughter of this house."

Who does she think was behind the kiling of Benazir?

“It is unwise to say it right now,” she says, “But I’m sure there are a lot of candidates. It could be Islamic radicals. But as we have seen in Lebanon and Iraq that only where America goes, Islamic radicals show up.”

In 1996, Murtaza Bhutto - Ghinwa's husband and Benazir's brother – was killed by police in Karachi. Murtaza (see picture) was a radical leftist who after the 1979 murder of his father, the legendary Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, fled into the mountains and began a not very successful armed uprising against the then military regime of General Zia ul Haq. During his days as a socialst rebel, Murtaza went to Afghanistan (unconfirmed rumours say he received aid from pro-Soviet forces). During the eighties he travelled through socialist parts of the Muslim world.

He visited Beirut, where he got in touch with left wing groups busy fighting Islamist-, Israeli- or other left wing forces during Lebanon’s civil war. After Beirut, Murtaza Bhutto moved to Damascus. Here he met Ghinwa Itaoui, a girl from the Lebanese city of Tripoli who lived most of her life in Beirut but moved in 1984 to Damascus. After their marriage, in 1989, Ghinwa Itaoui became Ghinwa Bhutto.

When Zia ul Haq himself died, in 1987 during a plane crash, a power struggle erupted between Benazir Bhutto and her brother Murtazar.

The question was: Who would be the best successor to their father Zulfikar?

Benazir and her husband Zardari won this fight, Murtaza and Ghinwa “lost”, leaving them outside the powerfull circle of Benazir, her husband Zardari and other prominent members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In 1993 Murtaza, along with Ghinwa, left Damascus and moved back to Karachi, Pakistan.

At the end of Benazir’s second period as a Prime Minister, in 1996, Murtaza was shot dead by police in Karachi. According to Ghinwa Bhutto, the killers acted on behalf of Benazir’s husband Asif Ali Zardari.

This, as she believes, because he regarded Murtaza as a threat to Benazir’s position as the political leader of the Bhutto family. Zardari has stronly denied any involvement in the murder of Benazir’s brother.

From that moment on, Ghinwa at one hand and Benazir and Zardari on the other weren’t – so to say – on speaking terms. Bascially, they hated each other.

So picture Friday’s burial of Benazir. Present are, among others, two people: Ghinwa Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardar. Both married into the Bhutto family. Both, by now, without husband and wife. Ghinwa, a widow since 1996; Zardari, a widower since Thursday, December 27th.

Both sat, according to Ghinwa Bhutto, opposite to each other in a room, close to the burrial site.

"Zardari did not even come near me, he stayed away from me," says Ghinwa Bhutto, "You see,” she continues, “Mr. Zardari is somehow considered responsible by the people of Pakistan for the death of my husband. And this is very much on his consience, that’s why we did not speak. We did though speak to the children of Benazir.”

An awkward moment?

“It was more awkward to him than to me,” Ghinwa Bhutto says, “Because I was always open to hear his justification [for killing Murtaza] but I have never heard from him. So that [the burrial of Benazir] was the moment for him to do that, but (he)didn’t. Maybe they are under shock, I think they are stil a little bit disfunctional.”

Cinically, the death of Benazir has turned Ghinwa and Zardari again into rivals. This time not about the question who will succeed father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but daughter Benazir Bhutto.

On Sunday, the PPP consulted the will of Benazir Bhutto. And according to it, Benazir's eldest child, the 19-year-old Bilawal, was appointed her successor. But because a Member of Parliament in Pakistan must be at least 25 years old, Benazir's husband Zardari will effectively lead the PPP until Bilawal turns 25. Benazir’s political will did not mention Ghinwa.

Ghinwa Bhutto never was a serious contender for taking over Benazir’s role. Since 1996, when she publically started accusing Zardari of masterminding the killing of her husband, she hasn’t been very popular among the mainstream PPP.

"The successor to Benazir must meet two criteria," she says, "First you have to be a Bhutto, secondly, you have to be a socialist, because otherwise you do not draw voters."

According to Ghinwa Bhutto, Zardari is none of the two.

“I actually think there has never been a real replecement for Zulfikar Bhutto,” she says, “Since his killing, there is a vacuum and nobody, not even Benazir, has been able to fill that.’

Ghinwa Bhutto, who heads a small Sindh based political party named PPP-Shaheed Bhutto, has a 25 year old daughter, Fatima. Unlike Asif Ali Zardari and Ghinwa Itaoui Bhutto (who were married into the Bhutto family), Fatima is born a Bhutto because her father, the murdered Murtaza, was one. And Fatima, in some ways, is even more a Bhutto than Benazir’s son Bilawal. This because, according to Muslim tradition, you take the family name of your father, not your mother. So Bilawal Bhutto is actually Bilawal Zardari, while Fatima – whatever happens - is Fatima Bhutto.

“My daughter is a an activist,” Ghinwa Bhutto says, “But she doesn’t want to be limited by party politics or only focus on running for parlimanent. She wants to wait a little bit more.”

Time will tell who, eventually, succeeds Benazir Bhutto. That is, in case of the Bhutto´s, if there will be enough time to tell.

Harald Doornbos