Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Mugniyah killed in Syria


Imad Mugniyah, Iranian operative and leader of Hezbollah's military wing, was killed in Damascus, Syria. Click image to view.

Imad Mugniyah, the leader of Hezbollah's military wing and a senior officer in Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in yesterday's car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Mugniyah was behind multiple terror attacks against US, Israel, and other nations, and most famously the 1983 Beirut suicide attacks which killed 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers. Hezbollah has confirmed Mugniyah's death, and has issued the following statement:

With pride and honor, we announce the martyrdom of a great resistance leader who joined the procession of Islamic Resistance martyrs. After a life full of Jihad, sacrifices and accomplishments lived with a longing to martyrdom, Islamic Resistance leader Hajj Imad Mugniyah (Hajj Radwan) was assassinated by "Israeli" criminal hands. The martyr, may his soul rest in peace, had been a target for the Zionists for more than 20 years. Almighty Allah has chosen him to be a martyr on the hands of His Prophet's killers who know that we have a long battle with them and the blood of martyrs especially our leaders has always taken our resistance to a higher and stronger level, just like when our two great leaders, Sheikh Ragheb Harb and Sayyed Abbas Moussawi were martyred.

We pledge to continue the martyr's path until achieving complete victory, God willing. We offer our sincere condolences to the martyr's family and his brothers in arms and we congratulate all resistance fighters for the Divine Legion of Honor.

The culprits of the car bombing in Syria are unclear. Syria is a police state, and security would be tight for a senior Hezbollah and Qods Force leader such as Mugniyah.

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Imad Mugniyah's car after the explosion. Image from Al Manar.

Hezbollah and Iran are blaming Israel for Mugniyah's death. "This action is yet another brazen example of organized state terrorism by the Zionist regime," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali. Israel has denied any involvement in Mugniyah's death.

But Israel was very likely behind Mugniyah's death. The method of assassination -- by booby-trapped automobile -- strongly suggests that Israel is responsible. The Jerusalem Post reported the car's driver's seat and the rear seat were "blown away by the force of the blast" in a well-placed bomb.

The Jerusalem Post's report of a well-placed car bomb seems to be confirmed by Al Jazeera reporter Abdul Hamid Tawfiq, who is reporting from Damascus. "When taking a close look at the car, we noticed that it was not burnt or blackened, but the driver's and passengers' seats were damaged." Tawfiq said. He believed that a bomb had been planted under the driver's seat.

This description matched the assassination Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil, a key Hamas operative in Damascus, who was killed by Israeli intelligence in September 2004.

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Recent photo of Imad Mugniyah, shown on Al Manar, Hezbollah's television network. Click image to view.

Mugniyah began his career in terrorism in the 1970s with Force 17, the personal bodyguard detachment for Yassar Arafat, and later joined Hezbollah. His more infamous terror attacks include the April 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, killing 63; the October 1983 simultaneous truck bombings on the US Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines and 58 French soldiers; the hijacking of TWA 847; the kidnappings and murders of US military, intelligence and diplomatic personnel in Beirut; the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1992, killing 29 people; the bombing of a Jewish cultural center in 1994, killing 86 people. He is suspected of direct involvement in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 US servicemen. He was also behind the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in northern Israel, the event that triggered the Israel-Hezbollah War in July 2006. Mugniyah likely played a role in the establishment of Iran's ratlines into Iraq and the creation of the Special Groups, which have been built to mirror Hezbollah.

Mugniyah had extensive links with the Iranian intelligence services, and was directly linked to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and former al Qaeda in Iraq commander Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Mugniyah was on FBI's list of 22 most wanted terrorists, with a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to his capture. US Special Forces aborted a raid to capture Mugniyah in the Persian Gulf in 1996. He was believed to have visited Syria in January 2006, attending a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Assad.

Mugniyah likely played a support role in al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks on the US. The 9/11 Commission Report was explicit about Iran's connections with al Qaeda. "The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations." Contacts between Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda were established in Sudan in the early 1990s. "Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah," according the 9/11 Commission Report. Many of al Qaeda's Sept. 11 hijackers transited through Iran. "After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda."

Hezbollah is essentially the Lebanese branch of Iran's Qods Force. Mugniyah is also a senior leader in Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Dr. Magnus Ranstorp, an expert on Hezbollah describes Mugniyah as standing "with one foot within Hezbollah (reporting to [hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah directly) and with one foot in Iran inside the architectures of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the al-Qods unit within the Iranian Pasdaran [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps]." Dr. Ranstorp also said, "there are two Iranian representatives (from the Iranian embassy in Beirut/Damascus) that provide a direct link on matters that require strategic guidance or Iranian assistance or arbitration" to Hezbollah's executive Shura, or council.



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READER COMMENTS: "Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Mugniyah killed in Syria"

Posted by doug at February 13, 2008 10:53 AM ET:

Bill, that's great news. this guy has caused enormous death and destruction around the world. Good riddance.

Posted by jay at February 13, 2008 11:08 AM ET:

"...who joined the procession of...martyrs"

Imad, when you get to hell, tell them who sent you....

Posted by Sam at February 13, 2008 11:08 AM ET:

With any luck the bomb was not instantly fatal and he was conscious afterwards.

Posted by Rob at February 13, 2008 11:22 AM ET:

yip yip yip yahoo!

Posted by Neo at February 13, 2008 11:25 AM ET:

WOW, This is big, big, big!

They haven't taken out anyone this big since Dorothy watered the Wicked Witch of The West. Somewhere, someone is getting a large bonus check.

Posted by Edward at February 13, 2008 12:00 PM ET:

Agreed, Neo, someone hit it big! (Not Mugniyah, of course.)

Posted by JusCruzn at February 13, 2008 12:48 PM ET:

Hopefully he is going to burn in hell for all eternity. My only other wish is that Robert Stedman gets to piss all over him for all eternity as well.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) at February 13, 2008 12:49 PM ET:

Whoever did this (and my money's on the Mossad, too), the civilized world owes them a big debt of gratitude.

Posted by tortillapete at February 13, 2008 1:20 PM ET:

HA-HA!

Posted by Alex at February 13, 2008 1:46 PM ET:

This is good, but Nasrallah is still at large. We still got work to do.

Posted by abu al-fin at February 13, 2008 1:48 PM ET:

72 virgins and not a moment too soon. Or is that 72 raisins? Or 72 razor blades? Koranic analysts are undecided.

Posted by Tommy at February 13, 2008 2:42 PM ET:

Fantastic news! As far as killing or capturing HVT goes, 2008 is off to a great start!

Imad, Al-Libi, Dadullah, possibly Adam Gadahn, several Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders, 2 top Haqqani deputies, Saifur Mansoor....

Posted by Chuck at February 13, 2008 3:26 PM ET:

Outstanding news. We need more of this type of direct action to eliminate these mass murderers of civilians.

Posted by GK at February 13, 2008 3:35 PM ET:

Wait, so he was only 20 in 1983, when the Marine Baracks were bombed?

That this is not the big headline in the media is shocking. Of course, it would cause the media to admit that terrorism existed before Bush became President, which they won't do.

So who killed Mugniyah?

Posted by Sven at February 13, 2008 5:37 PM ET:

1. I hope this is true.

2. If it's true then I want to thank from the bottom of my heart those involved and hope one in the know reads this comment. You have performed a great service to the world and true justice. He was one of the most evil men alive.

Posted by Paul at February 13, 2008 6:06 PM ET:

Yes...great news. If he's been sought since the early '80's, I'm curious what finally brought about success. Would love to know how it happened.

Posted by Shade at February 13, 2008 6:52 PM ET:

Has anyone heard any more word on the possibility that there was a second fatality in the bombing. I've heard that Israeli news agencies are reporting that Hajj Hussein Halil, deputy director of political affairs for Hezbollah was also killed in the blast. This is still unconfirmed but Israeli National News cited this is from an Iranian report. Anyone hear anything?

Posted by LDG at February 13, 2008 9:22 PM ET:

DEBKAfile has it as only the one target killed and no others present.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5028

Posted by Tommy at February 13, 2008 9:38 PM ET:

Today's killing made me think of something.

Why cant the same be done to the Taliban leadership in Quetta? It's been said numerous times we, the Afghan government know their addresses, houses, phone numbers, hideouts etc. Would it be impossible to put a bomb in one of their cars or near their houses?

Posted by Shade at February 13, 2008 10:25 PM ET:

This is what I'm talking about:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/141491

Posted by bb at February 13, 2008 10:28 PM ET:

Is there any hope that this could be an Awakening operation?

Posted by Tom stallings at February 14, 2008 12:17 AM ET:

Hopefully, he was not killed outright, but instead got to experience some of the pain that he caused so many others. Enjoy hell!

Posted by Miguel at February 14, 2008 5:33 AM ET:

Well, this is one of those breaths of fresh air that come too rarely. This is precisely the action that is needed to take these criminals out. We need to play by their rules for a while. One or two bombs in Quetta, one or two bombs in Syria and Lebanon, and these savages will have to pay a lot of attention to their own safety, distracting them considerably and using up precious resource. Let us press on with this direct action...

Posted by Martino at February 14, 2008 9:55 AM ET:

Hopefully (Allah Willing) Satan has spit number 1 all warmed up and ready for this little coward. May he burn in eternity with other such cowards of jihad.

Posted by JusCruzn at February 14, 2008 11:26 AM ET:

Another dead terrorist and the world became a better place! Too bad he got to RUN LIKE THE COWARD HE IS for so long. In the end he died running though and that says alot about all of them. It's real easy to say you want to die in battle, but when the proof comes out as this one has after all these years this coward showed his real intentions were never to die but to try to keep getting away. What a great start to 2008 let's keep killing terrorists!!!

Posted by Mark Pyruz at February 14, 2008 3:55 PM ET:

"Hezbollah is essentially the Lebanese branch of Iran's Qods Force."--Bill Roggio

This statement is inaccurate. Hezbollah comprises social and political elements that are not branched to any foreign military service. Even the military wing of the organization contains a far greater measure of independence than outwardly comparable relationships such as that existing between the US and Columbia. Tactically, Hezbollah's military wing is more experienced than its Pasdaran counterpart. Where this relatied experience may be reversed is in the field of weapon training, such as advanced ATGM's and AShM's.

There is a tendency for Western observers to frame ME adversaries in terms familiar to the previous Cold War. For the sake of accuracy, I would caution against such obvious simplicities.

Posted by Solo at February 14, 2008 8:52 PM ET:

Good riddance. Wouldn't surprise me if it was some of his own people that took him out. Whoever it was, it was a good job.

Posted by Neo at February 14, 2008 10:42 PM ET:

Mugniyah certainly has no shortage of enemies. Israel and the US are primary enemies but moderate Arab states are on his target list as well.

Then there is the liability problem. How far does Syria want to stick its neck out for Hezbollah and Iran. Syria can't be totally blind to the fact that any war Iran starts with Israel will be fought on Lebanese and Syrian territory. So who knows who got rid of him.

Posted by Robin at February 22, 2008 9:21 PM ET:

Big News! Too bad the US Press does not think so.... Not one word in any of the major papers I can find.....