How Hezbollah chief of staff Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated by the Mossad.

The Mossad could have killed him before the 12th of February 2008.


By Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlRai

There are many stories that go around about Imad Mugniyeh, born in July 1962. According to the CIA, Imad Mughniyeh was — by the age of 21 years old — the one who would engineer the South Lebanon Tyre truck bombing against the Israeli IDF in 1982 and 1983, the 1983 destruction of the American Embassy in Beirut, the planning, kidnapping, and murder of Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley, the 1983 bombing of the Marine and French paratrooper barracks, the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, the abduction and execution of US Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, the kidnapping of Western hostages 1985–1991 and many attacks abroad. For Hezbollah he is regarded as a hero who aimed to protect his country. This transpires in the way his death is described by his fellow Hesbollahi:

“On February 12th 2008, Imad Fayez Mughniyah, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Majlis al-Jihadi “Jihadi Council” in the Hezbollah Lebanon, traveled to Damascus to meet the Palestinian leaders Khaled Mish’al and Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, along with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — Al Quds Leader Brigadier Qassem Soleimani. The meeting lasted two hours. It was agreed to follow up in a different location in Kfarsouseh (Damascus) with other Palestinian commanders operatives, the logistics of weapon transfer to Gaza and the type of weapons to supply via Egypt and other routes. There, Imad was driven and dropped at the Hay al-Dubbat, in front of a building where, on the second floor, another group was waiting for him. Also present — apart from few Palestinian military commanders — were a few Hezbollah commanders and Iranian IRGC officers. For years, this apartment of the second floor was a well-known IRGC office. Neither Brigadier Soleimani, nor Mish’al and Shallah were present in Kfarsouseh.
“Before the end of the meeting, Imad Mughniyeh, stood up and decided to leave. That was a natural move on Imad’s part as he was responsible for his own security. After a few minutes, at 22:35 local time, a sound of an explosion shook the place. We, the conferees, thought we were the targets. As the sound originated from the street, we went to the window and looked down seeing the body of Imad lying in the open parking space of the residents. Imad was hit with eight impact wounds; seven in his body and one through his eye and across his brain. We rushed him to the hospital but we were too late. Imad was dead. We pulled him out of the hospital, into his car and drove to Beirut.”

On the way, the Hezbollah commander called Sayed Hasan Nusrallah, the Hezbollahi Secretary General, to inform him of the death of Imad, his deputy.

“For the Shiites, it is considered a rare privilege to possess this banner”

Thus, contrary to what is told in the media, for senior Hezbollahi officers, Imad Mughniyeh — Nasrallah’s deputy — wasn’t the head of the External operation of Hezbollah led by Talal Hamiyeh, and he wasn’t in a restaurant when he was assassinated nor was he visiting one of his friends. He arrived to Syria coming from Lebanon, by car, that same day. He asked his bodyguards to wait for him in a location close to the Sayeda Zeinab district. This was customary; he would spend a few hours a day and sometime several days outside Lebanon, sometimes would travel abroad without notice. Often his bodyguards, after days of patiently waiting for their boss’, would receive a call asking them to return to Beirut. “Haj Ridwan” (Imad’s nom-de-guerre) returned to Lebanon without informing his own bodyguards. He had never allowed his protection team to know where and with whom he would meet in Syria. He was responsible for his own security and relied on the fact that only a handful of people knew of his looks.

“At al Rasoul al-A’zam hospital in Lebanon, Nasrallah was waiting for Imad. He was carrying the banner of Imam Husein — one of the twelve Shiite Imams — he received from Karbalaa.” For the Shiites, it is considered a rare privilege to possess this banner. When Imad’s body arrived in the hospital, Nasrallah put the banner around the body to honor him and a relationship that had “lasted over 18 years.”

Women hold portraits of slain top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, during a rally to commemorate him in southern suburbs of Beirut 22 February, 2008. EPA.

In Nusrallah’s words: “He survived 20 odd years when all intelligence services were looking for him. He did what he needed to be done to protect the Shiites and now his time has come.

“Imad Mughniye made the mistake of [..] no longer keeping in mind the fact that he was — internationally — the most wanted man alive”

It appears that Imad was not aware that Israel was building a map of his movements for the last 6 months. Due to his enormous responsibilities within the organisation as “Chief of staff” and his frequent meetings in Lebanon and abroad, he was leaving behind a trail that was collected by both the CIA and the Mossad. These secret services are thought to be active within the organization as informants have been arrested by Hezbollah and revealed that they were leaking important information. According to Hezbollah senior officials, Israel could have killed him before, but waited until the month of February— this choice of date coincides with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah was accused by Israel and the ex -US President George W. Bush for Hariri’s death. Imad’s death is interpreted — not exclusively — by Hezbollah as a direct response to this accusation. Moreover, it supports the Israeli Mossad policy of ‘if you can’t defeat Hezbollah in the field, assassinate the commanders.’ According to a well informed source, “Imad Mughniye made the mistake of visiting most commanders in the south: in Beirut, the Bekaa and no longer keeping in mind the fact that he was — internationally — the most wanted man alive.”

“The other error that Imad made was to believe that in Syria he could lead an ordinary life. Perhaps the main cause of his death. He avoided the Syrian leadership warnings of being extra cautious in Al Sham as foreign services were believed to be operating in the country. In Syria, he had his own house, his own barber; he was known for frequenting the IRGC office regularly and meeting with Palestinian and Iraqi resistance. On February 12th, he came out of the building to walk about 11 meters to meet his death, a silver 4-wheel drive Pajero was parked in the open space in front of the building entrance. A bomb placed in the back of the reserve tire from which metal balls at a speed of 8400 meters per second — due to the C4 explosive — hit the body of Imad Mughniyeh while crossing.“

“Three groups were responsible for his assassination: a monitoring, execution and evacuation team supported by a spy drone of the type ‘Aaron’ — undetectable to Syrian radar to provide coverage in Kafarsouseh. Also, it is believed that the Israeli 8200 unit, responsible for collecting communications and data from mobiles belonging to regular and irregular forces must have played a role,” according to Hezbollah investigation assessment.

“This Israeli diversion created confusion; Hezbollah did not make a connection with the assassination”

According to the same sources, that same night of the 12th of February, Israel carried out provocative maneuver on the coasts of Lebanon where propelled boats as well as submarine-type “Dolphin” were monitored in Rawshe’ and Khaldah, aiming to distract Hezbollah from what was being planned in Syria. This Israeli diversion created confusion; Hezbollah did not make a connection with the assassination.

Woman holds a photograph of Imad Mughniye. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post.

Hezbollah considers the operation to have been fully executed by the Mossad without explicity excluding a role by the CIA. In fact, both the CIA and the Mossad are omnipresent in Lebanon and have managed to infiltrate some high ranking officers within Hezbollah.

A Senior Hezbollah commander told me:

“Israel knew about Hezbollah capability abroad and estimated that most plans of attack abroad could be dismantled due to their agent within Hezbollah’s external Unit. This is what has encouraged the Mossad to convince Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to approve Imad’s assassination.”

He was right.

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