Oct. 21 - Lebanon's opposition calls for mass rallies at funeral of intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan as Beirut authorities step up security. Jessica Gray reports.
Security in Beirut is tight ahead of the funeral for Wissam al-Hassan, a senior intelligence officer killed along with seven others, in a car bomb on Friday. Opposition leaders called for a mass turnout at the Sunday service in hopes of turning the funeral into a political rally against Syria and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Many believe the assassination was an attempt to drag volatile Lebanon into Syria's increasingly violent civil war. Anti-government protesters also claim the attack is proof the government is in cahoots with insurgent groups like Hezbollah as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTER BILAL AL-MIR SAYING: "What can we say? If he had a conscience, he would have resigned on the first day, he wouldn't have come to the government meeting at all. His chance was when al-Hassan was killed. He should have resigned. This is Bashar al-Assad's government." The bombing was among the worst violence in the capital since Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in 1995. Hassan, who had close ties to Hariri, was a staunch Assad critic and a key member of a task force linking Syrian groups to Hariri's death. He also uncovered a bomb plot two months ago that further strained Syria-Lebanon relations.