Feature

Middle East: Who assassinated Hezbollah’s assassin?

Syria now stands exposed as a protector of terrorists, said Britain’s The Times in an editorial. The assassination last week of Imad Mughniyah in Damascus proved that “Syria was harboring the terrorist who ranked second only to Osama bin Laden on Western

Syria now stands exposed as a protector of terrorists, said Britain’s The Times in an editorial. The assassination last week of Imad Mughniyah in Damascus proved that “Syria was harboring the terrorist who ranked second only to Osama bin Laden on Western Most Wanted lists.” Mughniyah, killed by a car bomb, was a top Iranian operative, the No. 2 figure in Hezbollah, and the mastermind of the bombings that killed hundreds of Americans and drove the U.S. out of Lebanon in the 1980s. He was by far the most influential terrorist in the Middle East. He “could not conceivably” have been in Damascus “without the knowledge, and protection, of Syria’s ruthless and numerous security services.”

Yet it may have been Syria that had Mughniyah bumped off, said the Lebanon Daily Star in an editorial. Damascus could have sanctioned or even ordered the killing “to ward off international pressure over its role in providing safe haven to Islamist militants.” We know this is possible, because international pressure succeeded in 1998 in forcing Syria to kick out Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, wanted for terrorism in Turkey. Of course, a more likely culprit is Israel. Both Hezbollah and Iran claim that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind Mughniyah’s assassination.

It was obviously the Mossad, said Iran’s Hezbollah. The “assassination squads of the Zionist regime” had been trying to “martyr” the noble Mughniyah for decades. It is extremely alarming that they were “able to infiltrate Syria’s security and intelligence organizations, to advance as far as Damascus, and to carry out operations there.” Still, Hezbollah will have the last laugh, said Sa’dollah Zare’i in Iran’s Iran. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, has called for “operations against Israeli officials” in retaliation for the martyrdom of Mughniyah. Let’s not forget, some 12 million Lebanese live abroad, and “all of them, even the Christians,” support Hezbollah’s resistance against Israel. Israelis should brace themselves for “operations against their safety and security anywhere in the world.”

And not just Israelis, said Caroline Glick in The Jerusalem Post. The true lesson of Mughniyah’s death is that “when it comes to attacking the West, there is no distinction between secular, nationalist, religious, Islamist, Sunni, or Shiite terrorists.” Mughniyah’s career is studded with examples of cooperation among disparate terror groups. In the 1970s, he and Yasser Arafat helped train Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. In the 1990s, he forged an alliance between Hezbollah and al Qaida and trained the al Qaida team that bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. More recently, Mughniyah helped train Shiite militias in Iraq, while some of his protégés trained the Sunnis working with al Qaida’s man in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi. “Mughniyah’s legacy is not simply a laundry list of massacre and torture. It is the nexus of global terror.”

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