Now Hezbollah officials and associates are describing a previously unknown role for Mughniyeh: Far from being too busy fleeing enemies, he was a key commander for Hezbollah in its 2006 war with Israel.AP can't call the thug, or the group, terrorists, even after the incontrovertible proof.
He was among the leading military and security strategists — if not the very top himself — of the group and a member of its decision-making committee, according to those who had knowledge of Mughniyeh before he was killed Feb. 12 in Damascus.
"Hezbollah's top architect of that war was Imad Mughniyeh," Anis Naccache, a 57-year-old longtime associate, told The Associated Press. "You can say he was like a staff general (chief of staff)."
In a speech Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah credited Mughniyeh with leading the group to two victories — the 2006 war and a Hezbollah guerrilla war in 2000 that led to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from its last positions in southern Lebanon.
In the 1980s, Mughniyeh was notorious in the West. He was accused of plotting suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy and bases of U.S. and French troops that killed hundreds, as well as the kidnappings of dozens of Westerners in Beirut.
The last attacks he is believed to have directed were suicide bombings in the 1990s against the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish center in Argentina that killed more than 100 people and a bombing in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 Americans.
For years, Hezbollah said almost nothing about him. But after his death, the group has embraced him as a hero — to a degree that surprised some Lebanese who believed Hezbollah would not want to revive memories of its past association with terrorism.
And his replacement in Hizbullah will try to do the same. Hizbullah's intentions haven't changed, and the UN continues to fail to carry out its obligations under UN SCR 1701. Lebanon continues to be torn apart by Hizbullah's presence, which is another avenue by which Syria profits.