Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Iran’s Arch-Terror Master Killed
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 1:38 PM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
The man who master-minded a string of massive car-bombings
against U.S. and Israeli targets on behalf of Iran’s radical Islamic
government reportedly was killed on Tuesday in a car-bomb attack in
Imad Mugniyeh, a Lebanese Shiite who went to work for Iran’s
Revolutionary Guards Corps shortly after the 1982 Lebanon war, was 46.
“He’s gone to the other side,” a U.S. official with access to ongoing
U.S. government reporting on the reported assassination told Newsmax.
Before the September 11 attacks, the FBI considered him the most wanted
terrorist in the world, since he was responsible for hundreds of
American deaths in repeated car-bomb attacks against the U.S. embassy
in Beirut, against the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut, and elsewhere.
He was formally identified by U.S. intelligence for his personal
involvement in the kidnapping and torture of CIA Beirut station chief
William Buckley in 1984, the murder of USMC Colonel Rich Higgins, and
the kidnapping of Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson.
Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for him last year for
his involvement in the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 86 people.
As I revealed in Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with
Iran, Mugniyeh also was identified in top-secret National Security
Agency intercepts obtained by the 9/11 commission shortly before they
released their final report in July 2004..
The intercepts identified Mugniyeh as traveling on board several Iran
Air flights from Damascus to Tehran between October 2000 and February
2001 that carried eight to ten of the “muscle” hijackers who would
later carry out the 9/11 attacks on America.
In the 9/11 commission report, Mugniyeh is merely identified as a
“senior Hezbollah operative.” But sources who reviewed the documents
told me there was no ambiguity whatsoever that Mugniyeh was the person
on board the planes, several of which made a quick stop-over in Beirut
where some of the hijackers came on board.
A former Iranian intelligence officer, now living in exile in Germany,
told me this morning that he recalled Mugniyeh’s role in convoying the
al Qaeda hijackers to Iran.
The former Iranian intelligence officer, who knew Mugniyeh personally
when he was in Iran, says the Lebanese terrorist had been dispatched
from Tehran to meet the hijackers, but never got off the plane.
“He was on the airplane as a security officer. I remember that,” the
former Iranian intelligence officer told me today.
Mugniyeh burst onto the international scene in 1985, when the FBI found
his fingerprints in the rear toilet of TWA flight 847 that a group of
Hezbollah operatives had hijacked to Beirut.
Mugniyeh and the his fellow hijackers are wanted by the FBI for their
cold-blooded murder of U.S. Navy diver Robbie Stethem, who was
traveling home from an assignment in Greece on board TWA 847.
The terrorists shot Stethem and dumped his body out on the tarmac, in
front of television cameras.
After that attack, Mugniyeh never appeared in public again, and is said
to have undergone multiple plastic surgery operations in Iran to
significantly alter his appearance.
One of his former colleagues in Iran told me three years ago that he
now looks like “Richard Gere with a potbelly.”
The photograph that was released by Hezbollah’s al-Manar television
today when they announced his death bears little resemblance to the
Hollywood actor. But the bearded man wearing glasses and army fatigues
certainly has grown a pot belly.
For more than two decades, Mugniyeh ran Hezbollah’s international
terrorist and security operations.
According to a childhood friend I called this morning in Dearborn,
Michigan, “everyone is crying” over his death.
“There is no doubt. That was Imad,” he told me.
In Lebanon, the childhood friend said that Mugniyeh was known as “Haj
Radwan. Nobody says ‘Emad’ in Lebanon.”
Hezbollah suspects that Syria may have played a part in Mugniyeh’s
killing, Newsmax has learned from sources close to senior leaders in
the terrorist organization.
“He was killed as he was going to meet Roustam Ghazali, the head of
Syrian military intelligence in Beirut,” a Newsmax source in close
contact with the Hezbollah leadership told me this morning.
Ghazali is wanted by the international tribunal investigating the
car-bombing assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on
Feb. 14, 2005. His office is located in a luxury high-rise in the Kfar
Soussa area of Damascus, where Mugniyeh’s car was blown up by an
Hezbollah plans to hold a massive public funeral for Mugniyeh tomorrow,
which also is the anniversary of Hariri’s death.
The anti-Syrian Cedars Revolution, also known as the March 14 movement,
plans to hold a rival demonstration to commemorate Hariri’s
assassination at the same time.
Just yesterday, a key leader of the March 14 movement, Walid Jumblatt,
warned Hezbollah and their backers in Syria and Iran that if they
wanted war, “we are ready.”
Jumblatt said that pro-government militias were prepared to disarm
Hezbollah, if that became necessary.
Sources in Beirut tell Newsmax that two days before the car-bombing
that killed Mugniyeh, an 8-man team of U.S. paramilitary officers
landed in civilian clothing at the Beirut airport and was whisked away
to the U.S. embassy compound in the hills overlooking a Christian
suburb of Beirut.
“We obviously can’t comment on that,” a U.S. government official said.
Hezbollah sources warned that they would retaliate for Mugniyeh’s
killing. “Very soon, they we release information on who killed him,” a
source close to the Hezbollah leadership told me.
“And after that, watch out. This is a very very big loss for Hezbollah.
They will strike back, and it could be anywhere in the world.”
© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
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