Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"America's Most Wanted" Imad Mughniyeh Reportedly Killed in Damascus

CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT AIRCRAFT PIRACY, TO COMMIT HOSTAGE TAKING, TO COMMIT AIR PIRACY RESULTING IN MURDER, TO INTERFERE WITH A FLIGHT CREW, TO PLACE A DESTRUCTIVE DEVICE ABOARD AN AIRCRAFT, TO HAVE EXPLOSIVE DEVICES ABOUT THE PERSON ON AN AIRCRAFT, AND TO ASSAULT PASSENGERS AND CREW; AIR PIRACY RESULTING IN MURDER; AIR PIRACY; HOSTAGE TAKING; INTERFERENCE WITH FLIGHT CREW; AND PLACING EXPLOSIVES ABOARD AIRCRAFT; PLACING DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES ABOARD AIRCRAFT; ASSAULT ABOARD AIRCRAFT WITH INTENT TO HIJACK WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON AND RESULTING IN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY; AIDING AND ABETTING---FBI

Picture credit and early article about suspected 9-11 conspirators.

The BBC reports (2-13-08):

The Lebanese group, Hezbollah, says one of its leaders, Imad Mughniyeh, has been killed in a bomb blast in the Syrian capital, Damascus. [full text]

Earth Times (2-13-08) reports:

The Lebanese group Hezbollah said Wednesday a senior member, Imad Fayez Mugniyah, was killed in a car bomb in Damascus overnight, according to media reports. A spokesman for Hezbollah said on its TV channel, al-Manar, Mugniyah was on Israel's hit list, according to al-Arabiya reports.

The blast in an upmarket area in central Damascus overnight left one man dead and two people injured, according to earlier reports.

A four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Pajero, which was parked in a street at a square, 300 metres away from an Iranian school, caused the blast, witnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The blast occurred at 10.30 pm local time in the district that also houses offices of the Syrian intelligence services.

Mugniyah was reportedly a mysterious figure who did not make public appearances and worked secretly. He was accused of being the mastermind behind major terror attacks in the 1980s, mainly the attack on the US marines in Lebanon.

The blast comes ahead of the arrival of Iranian foreign minister, Manuchehr Mottaki, in Damascus where he was expected to meet Syrian officials as well as members of Hezbollah - one of Iran's main allies in the region. [Full text]

Al Bawaba (2-13-08) reports that Hizbullah's Al Manar TV stated:

“With all pride we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs…the brother commander hajj Imad Mughniyeh became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis."

According to the FBI:

Mugniyah is the alleged head of the security apparatus for the terrorist organization, Lebanese Hizballah.

Discover the Networks has a profile of Mughniyah/Mugniyah here and notes that he was "[a] key planner of the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 people." The article describes Mugniyah's "war against the West":

The first shot fired in Mugniyah's war against the West was fired on April 18, 1983, in Beirut. On that day, a van packed with 2,000 pounds of explosives slammed into the front of the U.S. embassy and exploded with such tremendous force that the front of the building collapsed. The attack killed 63 people, including most of the CIA's Middle East leadership. Within hours of the attack, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. A clue concerning the real perpetrators of the suicide bombing was picked up by U.S. intelligence a month later, when it was revealed that a pre-attack cable from the Iranian foreign ministry had been sent to the Iranian embassy in Syria approving funding for a terrorist attack in Beirut.

The suicide attack against the Beirut embassy was followed up later that year by an even more devastating assault. On the morning of October 23, most of the 300 Marines stationed in a compound near Beirut's airport were sleeping in their barracks, having been deployed to the country to serve as a stabilization force. Then, at 6:33 am, the driver of a Mercedes truck drove straight through the front gate of the compound, past Marine sentries with unloaded weapons, and smashed into the four story concrete barracks. The driver, who reportedly was smiling, then detonated the explosive, estimated to equal the force of 12,000 pounds of TNT. The effects of the massive truck bombing were horrific, killing 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members. Again, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

...In 1998, American authorities captured former Green Beret advisor Ali A. Mohamed for his role in the twin terror attacks against U.S. embassies in Africa. Having been a relatively close associate of Bin Laden himself, Mohamed proved to be a treasure trove of information for American investigators. One of his statements, however, proved particularly troubling. In testimony delivered during his court case, Mohamed admitted that in 1994, he had arranged security for a momentous meeting in Sudan. There, Osama Bin Laden met Imad Mugniyah. He also stated that Hezbollah provided training for Al-Qaeda operatives in exchange for weapons and explosives. Indeed, this testimony corresponded with statements made by other Al-Qaeda officials, who told American investigators that the two had met several times in the mid 1990s, where they had discussed a greater degree of cooperation.

"He is the most dangerous terrorist we've ever faced. He's a--he's a pathological murderer. Mugniyah is probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we've ever run across, including the KGB or anybody else. He enters by one door, exits by another, changes his cars daily, never makes appointments on a telephone, never is predictable, will show up--he only uses people that are related to him that he can trust. He doesn't just recruit people. He is the master terrorist, the grail, we are after since 1983."

Those are the words of Robert Baer, a 20-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine services who once constructed a plan to kill Mugniyah in Lebanon. ...[Full text]

A few days after the 9-11 attacks, Jane's (9-19-01) wrote that Mughniyeh was suspected by Israel's military intelligence service, Aman, of involvement in the 9-11 attacks:

Israel’s military intelligence service, Aman, suspects that Iraq is the state that sponsored the suicide attacks on the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. Directing the mission, Aman officers believe, were two of the world’s foremost terrorist masterminds: the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden.

The two men have not been seen for some time. Mughniyeh is probably the world’s most wanted outlaw. Unconfirmed reports in Beirut say he has undergone plastic surgery and is unrecognisable. Zawahiri is thought to be based in Egypt. He could be Bin Laden’s chief representative outside Afghanistan.

The Iraqis, who for several years paid smaller groups to do their dirty work, were quick to discover the advantages of Al-Qaeda. The Israeli sources claim that for the past two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with Ayman Al Zawahiri. According to the sources, one of the Iraqi intelligence officers, Salah Suleiman, was captured last October by the Pakistanis near the border with Afghanistan. The Iraqis are also reported to have established strong ties with Imad Mughniyeh.

"We’ve only got scraps of information, not the full picture," admits one intelligence source, "but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected. One of our indications suggested that Imad Mughniyeh met with some of his dormant agents on secret trips to Germany. We believe that the operational brains behind the New-York attack were Mughniyeh and Zawahiri, who were probably financed and got some logistical support from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (SSO)."

..."Bin Laden is a schoolboy in comparison with Mughniyeh," says an Israeli who knows Mughniyeh . "The guy is a genius, someone who refined the art of terrorism to its utmost level. We studied him and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons, which we have given up trying to understand. The killing of his two brothers by the Americans only inflamed his strong motivation."

...It was the assassination of one man in March 1984 that is said to have made Mughniyeh the CIA’s most wanted terrorist. Mughniyeh allegedly kidnapped the head of the CIA station in Beirut, William Buckley. The kidnapping triggered what later became known as ‘Irangate’, when the Americans tried to exchange Buckley (and others) with arms for Iran. However, the attempt ended in a fiasco. By one unconfirmed account, Mughniyeh tortured and killed Buckley with his own hands. A year later, in a combined CIA/Mossad operation, a powerful car bomb went off at the entrance to the house of Hizbullah’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah. Seventy-five people were killed. One of them was his brother. Hunted by the CIA and the Mossad, Mughniyeh hid in Iran. [Full text]

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