The investigation added to suspicions that most stockpiles of chemicals, used to make fertilizers or bombs, disappeared or were diverted before the August 2020 explosion that rocked Berut and killed more than 200 people. .
The FBI investigation last October found that while 2,754 tons of ammonium nitrate had arrived in Lebanon seven years before the explosion, only 552 tons had caught fire on the day of the explosion, Reuters reported.
The probe did not provide an explanation for the discrepancy nor did it explain where the rest of the ammonium nitrate might have gone.
The news agency reached out to a senior Lebanese official for comment, and he endorsed the FBI’s findings regarding the amount of chemicals that exploded.
Many officials in Beirut have privately said much of the cargo was stolen, Reuters said, adding that another theory heard is that not all of the cargo exploded.
Political graffiti can be seen in front of the scene of the August 4 explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, August 9, 2020 (AP / Hussein Malla)
The 2013 cargo was being transferred from Georgia to Mozambique on a freighter leased by Russia when the captain said he was ordered to make an unscheduled stopover in Beirut, Reuters said, adding that the cargo did not never ended up leaving there and the cargo docked at the Lebanese port.
According to an unsourced assessment published on Israeli news channel Channel 13 last August, Hezbollah may have planned to use the stockpile of ammonium nitrate against Israel in a “Third Lebanon War”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denied that his group had stored any weapons or explosives in the port of Beirut.
Ammonium nitrate is used in the manufacture of explosives and is also an ingredient in the manufacture of fertilizers. It has been blamed for massive industrial accidents in the past, and was also a main ingredient in a bomb that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. In 2019, reports in Israel claimed the Mossad warned agencies intelligence on Hezbollah’s storage. Ammonium nitrate caches for use in bombs in London, Cyprus and elsewhere.
The Channel 13 report noted that “the material that exploded in the port is not new to Nasrallah and Hezbollah.”
He detailed Hezbollah’s previous links to ammonium nitrate, including incidents in Germany and the UK, both widely reported at the time, in which its operatives were allegedly found with substantial amounts of the material. In London in 2015, following a denunciation of the Mossad, the British secret service found four Hezbollah agents with 3 tons of ammonium nitrate held in sacks of flour, the TV report said, citing foreign reports. A similar process led to the discovery in Germany of Hezbollah operatives with enough ammonium nitrate “to blow up a city,” according to the report. Germany subsequently banned Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.