KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The deadly explosion in Beirut has nothing to do with terrorist activities but may be due to the failure of the Lebanese government to properly manage the ammonium nitrate stored there, said a Malaysian security expert.
Associate Professor Dr Mohd Mizan Mohammad Aslam, a strategic and anti-terrorism research specialist at Universiti Malaysia Perlis, said, however, the tragedy had worsened the situation in Lebanon as it had been struggling with various internal problems.
“What happened in Beirut is a major catastrophe as the country has various problems, especially the 15-year-old civil war, coupled with poverty. Lebanon is also among the poor countries because almost 50 per cent of its people are on the poverty threshold.
“The country also has huge debts, and other issues such as the assassination of its former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, its new prime minister Hamad Hassan is facing various internal political issues and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said when contacted by Bernama TV’s “Malaysia Petang Ini’” programme today.
Mohd Mizan did not rule out the possibility that the explosion could provide an opportunity for terrorist groups and others not aligned with Lebanon to launch attacks on the country during this period.
Meanwhile, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) project management and explosion impact specialist, Associate Professor Dr Mohammed Alias Yusof, did not rule out the possibility the explosion was sparked by a fire in the warehouse where ammonium nitrate was stored.
Ammonium nitrate is used as a fertiliser in agriculture and as an explosive.
“Probably because there were explosives in large quantities stored in the warehouse and they emitted gas or waves at very high speeds, which (caused the blast and) destroyed the surrounding area,” he said.
International media reports said the explosion at the Port of Beirut at about 6.10 pm local time Tuesday killed at least 100 people and injured more than 4,000 others.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown but Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi said it might be due to the chemicals stored in the port warehouse.