Frontpage magazine interview with Kenneth R. Timmerman  2/14/2008

Don’t miss HONOR KILLING, Ken’s new thriller on Iran, radical Islam, and the war on terror. For more information, see


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Kenneth R. Timmerman, the New York Times bestselling author of Countdown to Crisis, The French Betrayal of America, Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America, and Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq. In 2006 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his groundbreaking reporting on Iran ’s nuclear weapons program. He is the author of the new book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender.

FP: Kenneth R. Timmerman, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Timmerman: It’s my pleasure, Jamie.

FP: Thank you for joining us today to discuss the assassination of Imad Mugniyeh, one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, in Damascus on Tuesday. Give us the background on this guy. Aside from al Qaeda, no one else surpasses him in responsibility for American deaths right?

Timmerman: That’s right. Before 9/11, Mugniyeh was the world’s most wanted terrorist, for the simple reason that he had killed more Americans than anyone else. The CIA has said he was behind the April 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people. Later that year, he orchestrated the bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines. The very next year, he kidnapped, tortured, and murdered the CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, and carried out another attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut. In 1985, he hijacked TWA flight 847 in a famous standoff in Beirut, where he and his accomplices brutally murdered U.S. Navy diver Robbie Stethem and threw his body out onto the tarmac. He kidnapped reporter Terry Anderson and others in Lebanon, then moved to Argentina in the 1990s, car-bombing the Israeli embassy there in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish center in 1994. And that’s just his more famous attacks.

FP: How would you categorize this man?

Timmerman: He is a serial killer. One of my sources, a former Iranian intelligence officer who knew Mugniyeh, told me that he just liked the smell of blood. For the Muslim feast of Aid al-Fitr, Mugniyeh used to personally slaughter the lamb his family would eat, smearing himself and his children with the blood. I tell all of these stories and more in my 2005 book, Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran.

FP: Sure enough, for the jihadists, as with leftist revolutionaries, it is only blood that can redeem the earth.

So who do you think is responsible for Mugniyeh’s killing? What is their motive?

Timmerman: The list of Mugniyeh’s enemies is long. Hezbollah, of course, has accused the Israelis. It won’t be long before they accuse us, too. One of my sources who grew up with Mugniyeh and remains close to his family in Lebanon, told me yesterday morning that Hezbollah surveillance teams picked up the arrival at Beirut airport of an 8-man U.S. paramilitary team just two days before Mugniyeh was killed.

I saw a report just yesterday suggesting that the Rev. Guards lured Mugniyeh into a trap into Damascus, to make sure that he never revealed the extent of his involvement with al Qaeda in the 9//11 plot. This was a secret the Iranians would have liked to ensure that Mugniyeh carried to his grave.

I’ve got news for them, though: the word is out. Just take a look at pages 240-241 of the 9/11 commission report, which describes in elusive terms the travel of eight to ten of the “muscle” hijackers in and out of Iran in the company of a “senior Hezbollah operative.” That operative was none other than Imad Mugniyeh.

FP: In other words, you are saying that Mugniyeh was involved with the 9/11 terror attack and so was Iran - and the Iranians might have very well killed him so that the full extent of their own involvement would not become known.

Timmerman: There is absolutely no doubt that Mugniyeh and his masters in Iran were directly and materially involved in the 9/11 plot.

First, there is the evidence discovered very late in the day by the 9/11 Commission, which I describe in detail in Countdown to Crisis. What is astonishing is that this information has not been widely publicized. I spoke again just yesterday with one of the top investigators involved in reviewing the highly-classified U.S. intelligence reports on Mugniyeh’s involvement in convoying 9/11 hijackers in and out of Iran prior to 9/11. He was astonished when I told him that few people were yet aware of this. “That’s like saying you didn’t know that Jesse James was a crook,” he said.

The Iranians were TERRIFIED on the day of 9/11 and for the next month that the United States would “connect the dots” and discover their involvement to the 9/11 plot, as I reported in Countdown to Crisis.

Senior Iranian government officials were making desperate phone calls to relatives in the United States, asking them to rent apartments for family members so they could get out of Tehran before what they assumed would be a massive retaliatory U.S. military strike.

Of course, as we know now, that U.S. retaliatory strike never occurred – because the CIA and other U.S. government agencies succeeded in burying the information they had collected (or the case of our technical agencies, that they had siphoned up).

I believe when Americans realize the full extent of the Iranian government involvement in the 9/11 plot, they will demand action from their president – no matter what party affiliation that president may have.

FP: The French and the Saudis, who are supposed to be our “allies,” are known for having not cooperated in key instances of catching this terrorist, right?

Timmerman: Correct. Mugniyeh was photographed arriving at Orly airport in 1985 a few months after the FBI had identified his fingerprints in the rear lavatory of TWA 847, the plane he had hijacked to Beirut. They asked the French to arrest him, but the French government refused, fearing Hezbollah retaliation in the way of bombs in the streets of Paris – not an unreasonable fear, by the way. (I lived in Paris at the time and Hezbollah did this kind of thing periodically).

To their credit, the French leaked the photographs they took of Mugniyeh to the news media – actually, to me. I distributed them internationally through my newsletter, Middle East Defense News (MEDNEWS). Those photos are in the appendix of my book, and also can be found in nearly every publication that has ever run a photo of Mugniyeh.

In 1995, the CIA got word that Mugniyeh was flying into Saudi Arabia and asked the Saudi government to detain him on the ground. Again, fearful of retaliation, the Saudis told the captain he couldn’t land. In 1996, a similar incident happened in Qatar: hot intelligence, transmitted to the local authorities – then nothing.

FP: What ramifications does this assassination have for Hezbollah? For Lebanon? For the terror war in general? There will be retaliation won’t there?

Timmerman: Hezbollah is no longer a small gang of bang-men and two-bit thugs, but a world class terror operation with extraordinarily good intelligence, state-of-the-art communications, and networks spanning the globe. Hezbollah always retaliates when one of their men gets whacked. And with the exception of their top leader, Hassan Nasrallah, no one was more important than Mugniyeh to their organization.

One of my sources, who is close to the top Hezbollah leadership, told me recently that Mugniyeh won the personal loyalty of Hezbollah fighters and the leadership in the early 1990s when he almost single-handedly financed Hezbollah’s operations through drug-smuggling in the tri-state border zone in South America. When Hezbollah would send their fighters to train in Revolutionary Guards camps in Iran, it was Mugniyeh who personally shook their hands and congratulated them on graduation day.

Today, February 14, is the third anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, and his supporters are planning a huge demonstration in Beirut. Hezbollah is also planning a huge demonstration, to bury Mugniyeh. The possibility that the two groups could clash is very great. Just the morning of Mugniyeh’s death, a leader of the anti-Syrian coalition, Walid Jumblatt, warned Hezbollah that the coalition would disarm Hezbollah. “If you want war, then we’ll have war,” he said. Things are not going well in Lebanon, and this has just turned up the heat on a pressure-cooker already about to explode.

FP: This is a great day of celebration and joy for Americans, Israelis and all those on the side of freedom, right?

Timmerman: Without any doubt. State Department spokesman Sean Mccormack said it nicely on Wednesday. "The world is a better place without this man in it. One way or the other he was brought to justice." Other U.S. government officials have made similar comments. This is a man who prided himself on never carrying out two terrorist operations that were identical to each other.

Over the years I have gotten to know a number of former Iranian intelligence operatives, and people within Hezbollah and elsewhere who knew him personally. This is a man so utterly evil, and yet so thoroughly respected within his tiny community of evil minds, that I felt I should try to bring him alive as a fictional character, which I did in my recent thriller, Honor Killing, which tells the story of an Iranian plot to bring a nuclear weapon into the United States.

FP: Ken Timmerman, thank you for joining us.

Timmerman: Thank you Jamie.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at


Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).