Hariri: Vision of prosperous Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was among those killed Monday in the massive explosion that rocked central Beirut's fashionable seafront district.
Hariri, 60, had been a leading figure in Lebanon's reconstruction in the aftermath of that country's long and devastating civil war and was appointed prime minister five times, most recently in 2000.
But his tenure was marked by tensions with pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud.
Hariri's October 2004 resignation was prompted when parliament revised the Lebanese constitution to extend Lahoud's term, which was to have ended in November, by three years.
Hariri was born in Sidon in south Lebanon, where his father was a farmer and grocer. The young Hariri attended Beirut Arab University and worked with the Arab Nationalist Movement.
At 21, after leaving the university for financial reasons, he moved to Saudi Arabia and made friends with the man who would become King Fahd. Hariri eventually became Fahd's personal emisarry to Lebanon.
Hariri built a business empire from Saudi Arabia, first with his own construction company -- which benefited from the oil boom -- and then through his purchase of the French company Oger, which he built into one of the region's largest construction companies.
Oger later expanded into other business sectors and is now believed to be worth billions of dollars.
But Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, never forgot his native Lebanon. He launched several ventures, including the Hariri Foundation for Culture and Higher Education, which aided poor Lebanese with schools, healthcare and college tuition.
During cease-fires, he sent Oger trucks into Beirut's streets to clear away the rubble of the civil war.
As Fahd's emissary, Hariri mediated between Lebanese militia groups in 1983 and 1984 and between President Amin Gemayel and Syria in 1985.
Living again in Lebanon, he was a major force behind the national reconciliation conference that created the 1989 Ta'if Accord that led to the civil war's end in 1990.
Hariri was first elected to parliament in 1992 and was appointed prime minister in December of that year.
He formed two other governments from that point until December 1998, and two more between October 2000 and his October 2004 resignation.