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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Terrorist Bites The Dust- Imad Mughniyeh

Imad Mughnieh, also known as Hajj Radwan, was a senior Hizbullah commander that was killed in a bar bomb attack in Damascus late Tuesday night. According to the Associated Press, via USA Today, Mughniyeh has been linked to a number of terrorist attacks in the 1980's and 90's, which include but are not limited to;

April 1983: Suicide bomber rams van packed with explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans.

October 1983: Suicide attackers carry out near simultaneous truck bombings against barracks of French and U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut, killing 241 American Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

Note- September 7, 2007, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth found Iran ultimately responsible for the actions if the Hizbullah members which work as a proxy for Iran and Syria in Lebanon and issued a 2.6 billion dollar judgment against Iran to the families of those killed in that terror attack.

Lamberth ruled in May 2003 that Iran was responsible for the attack, which also wounded 26 people. He concluded that the suicide truck bombing was carried out by the militant group Hezbollah with the approval and funding of Iran's senior government officials.

March 1984: Lt. Col. William F. Buckley, CIA station chief in Beirut, kidnapped and eventually killed in the beginning of a spate of kidnappings linked to Hizbullah.

March 1985: Associated Press chief Mideast correspondent Terry Anderson kidnapped and then held for more than six years.

June 1985: Lebanese Shiite militants hijack TWA Flight 847 heading from Athens to Rome, flying it back and forth between Beirut and Algiers. At Beirut's airport, the hijackers shoot U.S. Navy diver Robert Stetham, a passenger on the plane, and dump his body on the runway. Most of the 150 passengers were freed during the three day hijacking; some were held for two weeks. The United States indicted Mughniyeh for his role in the hijacking, and he was put on FBI's most wanted list with a $5 million bounty for information leading to his capture.

March 1992: A pickup packed with explosives smashes into the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people.

July 1994: A van packed with explosives levels a seven-story Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. Argentina issues an arrest warrant for Mughniyeh in 1999.

Interpol also issued arrest warrants for five leading Iranians who allegedly masterminded that bombing and entrusted Hizbullah to execute it.

Syria's official news agency SANA said Imad Mughnieh killed a car bombing in Damascus on Tuesday night.

Mughnieh died at 10.45pm in Kfar Soussa, when a bomb exploded inside his Mitsubishi Pajero. He was the only victim of the blast. His body laid on the side of the road covered in a white sheet before he was taken away with the remains of his vehicle.

SANA quotes the Syrian Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Bassam Abdul-Majid as saying "The ongoing investigation over the car bomb in the residential Kfar Sousse neighborhood last night has proven that it targeted Lebanese combatant Imad Mughniyeh."

Mughnieh had been in hiding for years and the fact that he was killed in Damascus shows that for at least part of that time he was in Syria.

Terry Anderson, Associated Press chief Mideast correspondent, the man that was held captive for six years was contacted by phone by the Associated Press and he made the statement "I can't say I'm either surprised or sad. He was not a good man — certainly the primary actor in my kidnapping and many others. To hear that his career has finally ended is a good thing and it's appropriate that he goes up in a car bomb."

Mughnieh,ranked second only to Osama bin Laden on Washington’s most-wanted list.

Syria and Iran plan on conducting a joint investigation into his killing and accuse Israel of being responsible. Israel denies involvement.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed in a eulogy to the slain militant on Thursday that his group would retaliate against Israeli targets anywhere in the world.

Israel has put its embassies and other missions around the world on high alert and boosted their troop deployments on the Lebanese border in response to Mughniyeh's death.

Security sources said the alert could remain in force for weeks or even months.

Hizbullah has also issued the following statement, made at the funeral of Mughniyeh, via Hizbullah's al-Manar television channel:

"Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least, Almighty Allah has spoken the truth. Hajj Radwan was true to the covenant and died a martyr.

They (Israel) see in his martyrdom a great accomplishment and we see in it a good sign for the coming victory. This was the case with the martyrdom of our leaders Sheikh Ragheb Harb and Sayyed Abbas Moussawi.

When Sayyed Moussawi was martyred the resistance grew stronger and a few years later the Israelis withdrew from most of Lebanon, humiliated and broken. Today they killed Hajj Imad and they think that killing him would cause the resistance to crash down in the course of the July 2006 war that is not over yet on the political, media and material levels and still backed by the same people. But they are mistaken. With the blood of martyr Imad we must begin to write the history of the downfall of Israel in the very near future. The blood of martyrs Harb and Moussawi drove them out of Lebanon and the blood of martyr Imad Moghniyeh will drive them out of existence."

You can read the full statement here. (English version)

Hamas spokesman,Sami Abu Zuhri, chimes in with their own statement "We condemn this crime and we emphasize the Muslim nation must rise up to confront the Zionist devil which is back by the Americans."

As the news traveled throughout Lebanon, especially in the Ain Dilb quarter of the Shia-dominated suburbs of Beirut, which was home to Mughniyeh in the 1980's, gunfire broke out and as of yesterday afternoon his coffin had been transported to the southern suburbs of the city, where it lay draped in yellow Hizbullah flags, guarded by uniformed fighters, as mourners filed past.

Magnus Ranstorp, a Hizbullah specialist at the Swedish National Defence College in Stockholm says that this is a big blow to Hizbullah, stating "This is as big a blow as it gets for Hezbollah security. It’s even bigger than killing [the Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah."

Retaliation is expected and already foretold by Nasrallah's statements at the funeral as well as Sheikh Afif Naboulsi who is a prominent Hizbullah cleric in south Lebanon who tells al-Manar "Any attack against Hizbullah will be met with a response . . . an eye for an eye, a man for a man, a leader for a leader”.

Timur Goksel, a lecturer on international relations in Beirut and a former United Nations official in south Lebanon, makes it clear that "Hizbullah will go for a big bombing, probably an assassination of a high-profile target.”

In response to the death of Mughniyeh, the FBI has put its domestic terror squads on the alert for any threats against synagogues and other potential Jewish targets in the United States although there have been no specific threats issued against these particular Jewish centers.

It has also ordered its 101 nationwide Joint Terrorism Task Forces to contact community sources for any information signaling ramped-up Hizbullah activity over the next month.

FBI spokesman Rich Kolko issued a statement "The FBI monitors world events and continues to maintain a strong posture through the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces for any and all threats emanating from any terrorist group. Although we have no specific threat information at this time, we remind everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities."

Michael Salberg, director of international affairs for the Anti-Defamation League in New York makes it clear that "Security for Jewish organizations and Jewish institutions around the world is a 365-day concern and has been for a long time. When things heat up, when an incident occurs that raises concerns, it's a reminder. It doesn't change our focus on security."

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

A press release was issued by the Anti-Defamation League, on February 14, 2008, titled "Hezbollah Threats Against Israel And 'Zionists' In Wake Of Assassination Should Be Taken Seriously."

The escalating rhetoric from Hezbollah in the aftermath of the assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mugniyah is "a profoundly troubling development" that should be taken seriously, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Read the whole release.

New York, which has a large Jewish population is also seeing their police department step up patrols at the Israeli mission and consulate.

The US response to Mugniyah's death, from the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack was "The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass-murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost. One way or another he was brought to justice."

All expert opinions stated so far, shows that this will do nothing but stoke the existing tensions between Hizbullah and Israel, and are confident that these tensions will escalate, while the world waits for the "next move".

More from The Weekly Standard.

[Update]2/17/08- Times Online says Mugniyah had just left a little party in Damascus, the Syrian capital, to mark the 29th anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iranian revolution an that it is believed that a "headrest" bomb was the device used to kill Mugniyah aka "The Fox".

Good riddance to bad rubbish.