State Terrorism: Who Assassinated Hezbollah’s ‘Great Man’?

In the 20th century it was Nazi Germany that exemplified the ‘historical’ case of state terrorism. Now it is the authoritarian regimes of the United States and Israel that so openly and systematically commit to using violence and extreme versions of threat against their peoples, neighbors and adversaries.

After six years, new evidence has emerged that suggests it was the American CIA and the Israeli Mossad that were behind the assassination of Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s top commander.

According to Washington Post, on February 12, 2008, a team of CIA spotters managed to track the Hezbollah commander on a quiet nighttime street in Damascus. As Mughniyah approached a parked SUV, a bomb planted on the vehicle exploded, killing him instantly.

But here is the twist in the plot: The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with Mossad, who were in communication with the CIA operatives on the ground in the Syrian capital.

According to five former CIA officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation with the Washington Post, the CIA helped build the bomb. The close cooperation between the US and Israeli spy services suggests the importance of the target — a resistance commander.

Washington has never acknowledged participation. However, US involvement in the killing, which was confirmed by the former CIA officials, continues to push legal boundaries. In a nutshell, there was little debate inside the former Bush administration over the use of a car bomb to kill the resistance commander.

In “The Good Spy,” a book about longtime CIA officer Robert Ames, author Kai Bird cites one former intelligence official as saying: “The operation was primarily controlled by the CIA. It was a CIA ‘black-ops’ team that carried out the assassination.”

In another book, “The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins,” former CIA officer Robert B. Baer writes: “CIA censors screened my book and I’ve unfortunately been unable to write about the true set-piece plot against Mughniyah.”

The main point in all this is that Mughniyah was targeted in a country where the US was not at war. His assassination was a clear violation of international laws that proscribe “killing by perfidy” — using treacherous means to kill an enemy.

Unlike some Western governments that expressed joy over the incident, Iran, a victim of state terrorism, took a firm stance at the time. By condemning the assassination of the ‘Great Man’, as put by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Tehran proved to the world that the declarations of global West as regards democracy, human rights and war on terror are but empty gestures.

By pursuing politics of shame and closing their eyes to reality, the global West continues to pave the way for spread of terrorism across the globe. The so-called ‘international civil society’ has no intention to pursue justice or target the Israeli policy of occupation and terror. They adopt double standards vis-a-vis political matters related to terrorism to protect their interests – a reality that was so evident in the joint operation to assassinate Mughniyah.

In the face of such double standards, it is crucial to assert that cowardly acts of state-sponsored assassinations have failed to force the resistance into retreat.

A clear example could be this year’s Hezbollah missile attacks on January 29 at an Israeli military convoy in which 15 soldiers were killed along the Syrian-Lebanese border. The attack was in retaliation for Israel’s attack in Syria on January 18, in which Mughniyah’s son Jihad (Hezbollah’s commander in the Golan Heights) was killed alongside 4 other Hezbollah members and an Iranian military advisor to Damascus.

So far Tel Aviv has decided to stay away from escalation and call it quits. This could only mean one thing: Retreat. After all Israel is only good for cowardly done terror operations, and not for military confrontation in real battlefield.

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