Suddenly a Flood of New Details: How the Mossad worked with the CIA to Assassinate a Hezbollah Leader – Seven Years Ago
In Damascus, seven years ago – before the civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people in Syria – the military chief of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia was assassinated.
Israel never admitted responsibility for the killing of Imad Mughniyeh, who was responsible for many attacks on the Jewish State but also lethal bombings and hijackings that took the lives of hundreds of Americans.
Suddenly this weekend, CIA sources have been telling The Washington Post and Newsweek that American intelligence officers – acting surreptitiously and courageously in Syria’s capital – were primarily responsible for assassinating Mughniyeh.
The unofficial but reliably based Israeli version of events confirms that Israel and the U.S. were acting together. Israeli officials refuse to say whether Israeli (Mossad) operatives were on the ground in Damascus, but based on their successful similar operations in Beirut, Lebanon, it would seem logical – if daring – for the Israelis to be there.
The Israeli version confirms the new reports’ assertion that the signal to detonate the bomb that killed MUghniyeh was transmitted from Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv; and that might reflect the CIA’s reluctance to engage in assassinations.
The new accounts say that in Washington the CIA had to make a case – because of U.S. legal concerns – that Mughniyeh continued to pose a potent, deadly threat to Americans. The Post reported that President George W. Bush enthusiastically approved of the killing, after CIA director Michael Hayden felt uncomfortable about the mission.
How this seemed different from the drone strikes that killed dozens of alleged terrorists is not clear.
In our book, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, we wrote of unprecedented cooperation in recent years between the Israeli espionage agency, Mossad, and the CIA – including joint operations which would have seemed unthinkable prior to 9/11.
*THEY COULD’VE GOTTEN A SENIOR IRANIAN
Sources close to the Israeli side of the mission confirm that the Mossad was acting jointly with the Americans – and they confirm that the CIA was very concerned that “collateral damage” be avoided, including the possibility of killing of a senior Iranian operative who was with Mughniyeh in Damascus. That man was identified as Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officer in charge of liaison with Hezbollah.
The Israeli side suggests that its desire to include Soleimani in “the hit” was vetoed by the Americans.
Our sources continue to say that Mughniyeh was not as careful as he should have been, because in Syria’s capital he was “fooling around” with women. In Beirut, especially as a senior officer of the conservative Hezbollah (Shi’ite Muslim) movement, he would not have engaged in such reckless behavior.
In Damascus, Mughniyeh was visiting a girlfriend – and that was his fatal downfall.