Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Under somewhat mysterious circumstances, one of the worlds most notorious terrorists was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Imad Mughniyeh had a rap sheet that made him the most dangerous terrorist until Osama bin Laden came along.

Among the terrorist attacks on his record: the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing that killed 241 US Marines and sailors.

So, who got him? Did the Israelis succeed in nailing this Hizbullah terror master in Syria, sending a message to the terrorists in Gaza and West Bank and their terror masters in Syria and Iran that no one can forever escape justice?

Did the US take him out? Or, did the Iranians or Syrians decide that they no longer had any use for the guy?

In any event, score one for the good guys.

The First Post notes the following:
Hezbollah TV announced this morning that Mughniyeh was 'martyred' in a car bombing in Damascus last night "by the hands of the Zionist Israelis". A spokesman for Israel's PM Ehud Olmert declined to comment, but it is an open secret that the Mossad security agency had been hunting Mughniyeh for many years.

So had the CIA, which blamed the veteran terrorist for plotting the bombing that killed 240 US servicemen in Beirut in 1983 and subsequent attacks on the American embassy in Lebanon in which the cream of the CIA's Middle East agents perished.

Mughniyeh - whom the CIA refers to as 'the original Bin Laden' - was also suspected of organising the kidnapping of the CIA's Beirut station chief, William Buckley, and personally torturing him to death: he was also linked to the abduction of the Western hostages, including the Britons Terry Waite and John McCarthy, in Beirut during the 1980s.

Israel's relentless pursuit of Mugniyeh, who was believed to be in his late forties, was motivated by his suspected involvement in bomb attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and a Jewish community centre in the Argentine capital in the early 1990s that killed more than 120 people. His brother, also a Hezbollah militant, died in a car bombing in Beirut almost 15 years ago that was widely believed to have been an Israeli attempt to assassinate Mughniyeh.
Beirut Spring noted that Hizbullah has spent the past decade trying to rebrand itself as something other than a terrorist group that specialized in suicide bombings and mass casualty attacks, which were Mugniyah's specialties. The location of the attack is especially embarrassing for the Syrians, but then again wonders whether the Syrians were in on the plot to send a signal to Presidential hopeful Barack Obama whose foreign policy advisor Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, is heading to the region, that talking might get somewhere?

Others blogging: Hot Air and Jammie (who notes that Imad should rest in pieces)

Note also that the 1983 bombing that occurred on October 23, was actually a multiple truck bombing - one truck bomber demolished the US Marine barracks, while a second truck bomb blew up the French peacekeeping mission, killing 58 French soldiers.

Israel denies any involvement, but the Syrians are pointing their fingers at Israel. None of this lessens the importance of his death. It's also rather fitting that he died via car bombing, since vehicle bombing tactics were one of his hallmarks.

Rusty posits that Imad was taken out in retaliation for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri who was murdered three years ago tomorrow. I'm not so sure that the anti-Syrians have the capabilities to pull off such a complicated attack. There's not much of the car left.

No matter who was responsible, many a message was sent and delivered in eliminating Imad. The question is who was listening and what will be learned.

Israel denies any involvement in taking out Mugh the Thug. Israel has also raised the alert level on its embassies and facilities around the world in case Hizbullah or its terror masters decide to lash out at Israel (as they invariably seek to do).

So, who would try to take him out? Well, it's a long list. Here are the possible folks responsible for ridding the planet of this oxygen thief:

1) CIA
2) Mossad
3) Anti-Syrians gaining retribution for Hariri assassination 3 years ago tomorrow.
4) Syria (no longer needed him)
5) Iran (no longer needed him)
6) Hizbullah itself - someone decided to move up the career ladder

Of those, the most plausible are the Israelis, who have repeatedly shown that they can pull this kind of thing off - and the messages sent would be loud and clear to terrorists all around 'em. It says that if we can get to Mugh the thug, we can get to you too.

The CIA has shown itself capable of taking out terrorists, but it's recent modus operandi is the Predator strike, not a car bomb. I put the CIA on the ground in Syria to be remote at best.

However, the CIA assisting an anti-Syrian group? That's more likely than a CIA direct hit. Still somewhat remote given the time and effort needed to go after someone like Mugh the thug. Once you get more people involved, the likelihood that someone gets pinched and exposes the plot.

There is another possibility, which I judge as remote, and that is that various state sponsors like Iran or Pakistan have decided to liquidate the terrorists that they previously sponsored because the US and Israelis are getting to close to their regimes - plausible deniability could no longer be assured. Note that we've seen a spate of big name thugs dispatched of late.

Bill Roggio notes that today's events mirror an Israeli intel operation that killed a Hamas terrorist in 2004. Also, links between al Qaeda and Hizbullah have been evidenced and suggested before - including in the 9/11 report.

Others blogging Mugh the Thug's termination: Macranger, Outside the Beltway, Charles at LGF, and Gateway Pundit.

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