Imad Mughniyeh is Dead

Repost from the old site. A bit dated, but should be useful nevertheless.

One of the only known photos of the super-elusive and ultra-mysterious Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah mastermind. He was so slippery he was dubbed Hezbollah’s Carlos, after the famous terrorist Carlos from the 1970’s. This is a great picture of him, suspicious, haunted, looking over his shoulder, as a man on the run should. And he was a man on the run for most of his life. A more recent photo of Mughniyeh in military fatigues, against a camouflage background, issued by Iran after his death. Between the earlier photo and the later, it looks like he hasn’t missed a meal. Some are also saying that the two plastic surgery operations did not alter his appearance much, but I am not at capable of judging that.

I can’t stress the importance of this news. Imad Mughniyeh, Supreme Commander of Hezbollah for the past 25 years, has been killed in a car bomb in Damascus last night, February 12, at 10:45 PM. He was on the CIA’s Most Wanted List with a $25 million bounty on his head. He was the only person killed when a silver Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle (apparently Mughniyeh’s car) exploded in the upscale Kafar Soussa District in the vicinity of a Iranian school that teaches religion to Iranian pupils. Several other cars were damaged and windows of surrounding buildings were blown out. Residents gathered in their pajamas to look at the scene. A single body lay in the street, covered by a white sheet. Kafar Soussa has many apartment buildings constructed in recent years, along with a large shopping center and the main offices of the formidable Syrian Intelligence Services. Mughniyeh was wanted for a number of attacks during the US invasion of Lebanon in 1982, said to be to keep the peace, but actually ending up as usual, supporting the Israelis. Mughniyeh orchestrated the bombing of the US Marine Barracks and French Headquarters in Beirut in 1982 that killed 227 Marines and 58 French troops. He also supervised the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut in 1983 that killed 63 and wiped out the entire top tier of US CIA Middle East agents. He also pulled off the bombing of the Israeli command center in Tyre that killed scores of Israeli troops. He was involved in the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and the execution of US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem in 1985. He was involved in the kidnappings of many Americans in Beirut during the 1980’s, including Terry Anderson and CIA officer and US Army Colonel William Buckley, who Hezbollah executed. In 1988, the top US CIA agent in Lebanon, Colonel William Higgins, was kidnapped by Hezbollah and tortured to death. He was also involved in the truck bomb attack on the US military residence facilities at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, targeting US servicemen who were guarding Saudi oil fields. 19 Americans were killed in that blast and 200 more were wounded. There are suggestions that he was involved along with Hezbollah and/or Iran in the dual bombings in Buenos Aires, one at the Israeli Embassy 1992 that killed 29 people, and another at the Jewish Cultural Center in 1994 that killed 95 people. Three Israeli soldiers, Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Souad were captured along the Lebanon border in 1999, taken POW, and possibly later executed. The border incident that set off the 2006 Lebanon War led to the capture of two more Israeli POW’s, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Mughniyeh was believed to be behind both of these abductions of Israeli soldiers. Debka has long claimed that Mughniyeh was on very close terms with both bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the Iranian leadership. This seems bizarre. Al Qaeda’s project is nothing less than Hitlerian extermination of every Shia Muslim on Earth. Mughniyeh has been described as Hezbollah’s Head of External Operations and it is believed that he stays in contact with cells that Hezbollah has all over the world. He is also described as a senior Hezbollah intelligence official, head of the group’s security wing and the founder of the group. In the event of a US or Israeli attack on Iran, Mughniyeh would have been relied upon to be in charge of any response. Angry Arab feels that Mughniyeh’s role and feat were largely exaggerated, but I am not so sure about that; he also feels that Robert Fisk could not possibly have interviewed the actual Imad Mughniyeh in Lebanon in 1991, but I think he did. The interview is worth reading: Fisk in yet another superb, incisive piece. When it comes to Middle East, few are better than Robert Fisk. I guess that is why International Zionism is on a crusade to crucify him. Mughniyeh was Lebanese, born in Tyre in South Lebanon, not Palestinian as many people are saying. He joined Arafat’s Force 17 elite bodyguard unit in Lebanon at a young age. He joined Amal, and then went to Iran for training, where he excelled. He then conducted daring behind enemy lines operations in the Iran-Iraq War. Most of the operations in Lebanon that he is most famous for were actually conducted by a group called Islamic Jihad. This group later was folded into Hezbollah, which was not formed at any rate until 1988 anyway. Mughniyeh personally executed Stethem during the hijacking in 1985. In 1990, he had plastic surgery done in Iran to change his facial features. Then he went back to Beirut, where he lived underground using a variety of fake passports. At some point, his cover got blown and he returned to Iran again for a second plastic surgery operation that completely changed his appearance. He was said to have been in Basra in early 2006 helping Mahdi Army fighters go to Iran for military training. He then returned to Lebanon, where he took part in the Lebanon War. Lately, he was still living in Beirut, but traveling to the Damascus neighborhood where he was killed for meetings on a brains behind Hezbollah’s military wing.” Hezbollah’s casualties in the 2006 War are not known. Israel claims that 1/3 of its fighters were killed, but that seems excessive. It seems clear that Hezbollah has now completely restocked its missile supplies and has tripled them from 15,000 in the 2006 War to 45,000 now. Further, it now has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv. In recent days, Hezbollah teams disguised as reporters were said to be photographing the area on the Israel-Lebanon border. Mughniyeh definitely committed some acts of terrorism – notably the bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires – but most of his so-called crimes were simply acts of war, legitimate acts of war I might add. Guerrilla armies lack spy satellites, $500 billion/year defense budgets, smart bombs, cruise missiles, F-16’s and all of the other expensive military hardware that enables advanced states to carry out precision states during war. Guerrilla groups have to make do with what they have. I do consider embassies, especially those swarming with espionage agents, to be legitimate targets for guerrillas in wartime. Surely spies may be executed, but I don’t think enemy troops should be. None of the attacks on US, French or Israeli bases in Lebanon were terrorist attacks. The killings of the three Israelis and the US servicemen were war crimes, but the US and Israel have certainly executed plenty of POW’s and the Israelis continue to do so. The attack that set off the Lebanon War was hardly an act of terrorism. Hence, Mughniyeh’s mantle as the king of terrorism is largely nonsense. Most of his acts were simply very well planned and executed attacks on the enemy in wartime, and within what I consider to be the rules of war. Mughniyeh was one of the most underground people on Earth and no one seemed to know where he was most of the time, and Hezbollah was not talking. He was probably one of the world’s most highly protected and most secretive guerrilla fighters. Whoever killed him by penetrating his multiple circles of Syrian and Iranian intelligence officers and bodyguards surely pulled off a coup de etat. All fingers are pointing to the Israeli Mossad, which is expert at these kind of attacks. However, the Israeli government is matches closely the MO of the Mossad assassination of top Hamas operative Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil. In fact, a book written as fiction by a former Mossad agent, though set in the Shia suburbs of South Beirut, appears to describe the MO used in the killing of Mughniyeh closely. If the book had been translated into Arabic and Mughniyeh had read it, perhaps he could have avoided this. Khalil was a founding member of Hamas and a senior member of the Hamas military wing. Actually, there are probably two Hamases. One is the Hamas that runs the Gaza government. The other Hamas is based out of Syria and could be called Hamas-Khaled Meshal. This could be seen as an arm of Hamas run out of Syria, and probably a more militant one at that. Sheikh Khalil was close to Meshal. However, note that Israel “neither confirmed nor denied” that killing of Khalil. Has there ever been a case of an Israeli assassination that they did not take credit for, indeed that they even said explicitly that they did not do? Also note that retired CIA officers are saying that Israel did it. Other theories suggest that either supporters of the pro-government faction in Lebanon, at odds with Hezbollah and Syria, or Iran themselves, killed Mughniyeh. The Syria and Iran theories hinge on those countries giving up Mughniyeh to the US or Israel in order to get the heat off of them and deliver a wanted militant that had a $5 million US price tag on his head in return for an unspecified US quid pro quo. This theory is called into question because Bush placed new sanctions on Syria the day after the bombing. If this was a quid pro quo to get the US to back off Syria, that would not have happened. Mughniyeh was also wanted by some of the Lebanese Christian factions and the saying that they have settled their account with Mughniyeh. Further analysis of Israel’s denial shows that it may not even be a denial at all – Israel rejects terrorist groups blaming Israel for the killing, but does not deny that Israel committed the act. If Israel indeed killed Mughniyeh, which seems likely, that looks very bad for Syria. It means that Mossad has been able to penetrate into the heart of Hezbollah, and it means that the Mossad can operate apparently with impunity deep in the most secure parts of Damascus. Their next target is surely Nasrallah himself. It also implies that Israel has penetrated Syrian intelligence itself, a tough nut to crack. Hezbollah will now probably undergo purges looking for the Israeli agents in Hezbollah. People will be arrested and executed. Mughniyeh is said to have replaced Hassan Nasrallah as head of the Hezbollah after the 2006 war and he was rumored to have enemies in Lebanon, maybe even inside Hezbollah. Hezbollah TV is reporting his death and blaming Israel. Nasrallah will speak at his funeral in Beirut, which will be very heavily guarded. This does not look good for Damascus. They were supposed to protect this guy, who is after all one of their main assets, but they failed. His death is huge news in the roiling stew pot called the Middle East, and there will surely be counter-responses by Hezbollah, probably against Israel. Nasrallah is already thundering threats in the direction of Israel. The wild conspiracy stories are already spreading like vines. This is the Middle East, where intrigues are as normal as sand and hummus and anything that can happen, probably does happen. We have not see the end of this.

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5 thoughts on “Imad Mughniyeh is Dead”

  1. “Mughniyeh definitely committed some acts of terrorism – notably the bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires”
    Actually Iran and Hezbollah were not behind the bombings in Argentina.
    The Daily Kos ran an article admitting this.
    I think I still have the link to the article on my main computer. If I do I’ll post it here.
    Robert have you been following the Hariri investigation?
    Voltairenet has been running a series of good articles about it and it seems the US and Israel and other parties involved are going to great lengths to pin the attack on Hezbollah.

    1. Wow…I actually agree with you on something. Pardon me while I pull the pin to this old WWII era fragmentation grenade I keep around the house here.

      1. What is it you don’t agree with me on?
        That Islam sucks?
        That Al Qaeda as an international terrorist organisation does not exist?
        That Islamic miltants still work for western intelligence?

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