Wednesday, February 20, 2008
TERROR MASTER BLOWS UP
f this war against a terrorist, totalitarian ideology were like any other war in history, his name would have been a household word and his end would have been celebrated in every freedom-loving town and city across the world. Small children would be composing new playground songs, ridiculing the man who practically invented the mass-casualty vehicle bombing, and was apparently atomized by his own tactical creation.
Imad Mughaniyah attended a party last Tuesday night in Damascus, to celebrate the 29th anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution. After departing from the festivities, his car exploded. The notorious killer, with a legend rivalling Carlos the Jackal, has finally left us. And left the world much better off.
One journalist with the historical perspective is the British writer Con Coughlin.
As a young reporter working in Beirut 25 years ago, when my daily routine consisted of dodging car bombs and the attentions of Shia kidnappers, one name guaranteed to spread terror throughout the beleaguered community of foreign nationals was that of Imad Mughniyeh.For Coughlin, both Carlos and (another household name) Abu Nidal were mere amateurs compared with the depraved efficiency of this head honcho of HizbAllah, and when it came to achieving the objective of striking terror into civilian populations, he writes, Mughaniyah was without peer. (Wai URGENT AGENDA, a terrific and worthwhile daily read, for that one.)
From the early 1980's until the present, this degenerate's hands were into an incredible array of the most renowned and deadly attacks. The U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut (60 killed) in 1983 was his work, the first spectacular vehicle / suicide bombing carried out by the budding radical Islamist movement. Later the same year, suicide bombing attacks on American and French bases in that city killed more than 300. His hand was in many kidnappings and hijackings through the 80's and 90's, as well as bombings in Argentina against the embassy of Israel (29 killed) and a Jewish community centre (85 killed). Those are just a few of his career highlights, there's a lot more.
It remains a mystery as to who finally got him, but of course the prime candidate would be MOSSAD. According to Times Online, Israel's intel sources have told them that the driver's headrest has been replaced with an exploding one. Other accounts claim the explosive was carried by another car. However they did it, he won't be murdering any more innocents. His grieving mother only wished she had more sons to carry on the family tradition.
“If only I had more boys to carry on in his footsteps,” she sighed, confessing that she did not have any pictures of him, even from his childhood, as he had taken them away. He was the third of her sons to die in a car bombing.Her other two "boys" were killed when their own bombs went off prematurely.
The most extensive current report that I've seen on the ex-HizbAllah commander's career is this one by Thomas Joscelyn in Weekly Standard. Because he was such a prominent HizbAllah figure, most news accounts skip over the al Qaeda connection.
But what virtually all of the coverage in the major media in recent days omits is this: Imad Mugniyah was a vital ally of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.I've read elsewhere that bin Laden is believed to have looked upon him as something of a role-model, when his own career was just getting started. Joscelyn draws a lot from the 9/11 Commission report in this piece, including some information which came too late for proper investigation by the commission, but was cited in a later book by chairmen Kean and Hamilton.
Most accounts have ignored Mugniyah's ties to al Qaeda. Others have denied that collusion between the Shiite Mugniyah and the Sunni bin Laden was possible. One Associated Press account described Mugniyah as "a Shiite Muslim not known to be connected to the Sunni al Qaeda." James Risen of the New York Times mentioned in passing that "there is evidence of contacts between [Mugniyah and bin Laden]," including "at least one meeting in the 1990s, possibly to discuss a terrorist relationship." If it were left to the mainstream media, then, Mugniyah's role in the history of al Qaeda's terror would be only a vague matter for speculation.
The following information should be read in conjunction with the Joscelyn article linked above. The question at issue: How closely affiliated was Iman Mughaniyah with Osama bin Laden?
When I want to look up some terrorist or other (especially the ones with long careers), wishing to find out how they fit into the global jihad, I go to a biography of bin Laden written by Yossef Bodansky two years before 9/11. Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America. There are quite a few referenced to Mad Imad therein, and here are a few of them.
There are a couple of acronyms cited below, and here are their meanings. I include HizbAllah for anyone who doesn't know that one (you should).
HizbAllah = "Army of Allah" (Iran)
IRGC = Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (Iran)
PAIC = Popular Arab and Islamic Conference
In April 1994, bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship, and took refuge in Sudan under the wing of the Sudanese mujahideen's spiritual leader, Hassan al-Turabi. Many of the names which follow will be familiar to jihad watchers.
p102That's just to set the scene of the Iran - Sudan leadership of the then-coalescing international terrorist movement.
With these preparations for the next phase of terrorism in advanced stages, the Iranian-Sudanese Islamist leadership decided to thoroughly study its posture and reexamine future plans. this was to be a prolonged process to accurately reflect the magnitude and complexity of the challenges facing radical Islam. Between October 1994 and April 1995 senior officials of Iran, Sudan, and key Islamist terrorist organizations conducted an unusually large number of conferences and meetings, mostly in the Middle East. At such conferences and meetings the most important decisions about future terrorist campaigns and specific operations are made, and these gatherings are also the main venue for the secure distribution of instructions and authorization of specific operations. The sheer quantity and diversity of these gatherings reflected the intensity of the preparations then taking place throughout the Islamist international terrorist system.
The first major meeting was held in October 1994 in the Firozi Palace in Tehran. The key participants were the representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran's spiritual leader and Khomeini's successor), Ali Fallahian (then Iran's minister of intelligence), Muhsin Rezai (chief of the IRGC) Muhsin Rafiq-Dust (chief of the Foundation for the Oppressed, Iran's main instrument for clandestine financing), Imad Mughaniyah (chief of the Iranian-controlled HizbAllah Special Operations Forces), Sheikh Bikahi (in charge of HizbAllah's foreign operations), and senior representatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian al-Jamaah al-Islamiyah. The Egyptian delegate arrived from the United States.
p 108Bin Laden (Sunni terrorist) and Mughaniyah (Shia terrorist) were deeply involved in the most important jihadist planning meetings, 13 years ago.
Under cover of another PAIC conference in Khartoum, secret consultations to coordinate terrorist activities took place between high-level intelligence officials from the key terrorist-sponsoring states and terrorist leaders.
In late March and early April 1995 Osama bin Laden attended these meetings in Khartoum. The most important meetings, held in Turabi's headquarters, were organized by Mustafa Ismail Uthman, who runs the Sudanese terrorist training camps. The key participants were Osama bin Laden, Imad Mughaniyah, Fathi Shkaki (chief of Palestinian islamic Jihad), Mussa Abu Marzuk and Muhammad Nizzal (both key HAMAS commanders), Adrian Saadedine (of the International Muslim Brotherhood), Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zandani (the Yemenite islamist leader), Mustafa Hamza (a senior Egyptian "Afghan" commander) and two other representatives of Egypt's Islamic Jihad, two representatives from the Ennadha's consultative council (from Tunisia), representatives from Qazi Hussein Ahmad's Islamic Jihad of Pakistan, and military representatives from Algeria's main Islamist terrorist organizations -- the AIS and the GIA.
p 124Note: these weren't the secret meetings at Turabi's place, it was an international Arab conference.
Considering the magnitude of the required investment in operatives and funds, Turabi decided to raise the issue at the PAIC conference in Khartoum at the end of March 1995. The Friendship Hall sessions resulted in the formulation of a strategy for an Islamist revolutionary and terrorist surge around the world. Turabi brought with him Osama bin Laden and Mustafa Ismail Uthman of Sudanese intelligence. Mohammad Said Naamani of Iranian intelligence, an expert on Algeria and North Africa represented Tehran. The other leaders and commanders consulted were Imad Mughaniyah and Naim Qassim (HizbAllah), Fathi Shkaki (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), Mussa Abu Marzuk and Muhammad Nezzal (HAMAS), Adrian Saad-ad-Din (International Muslim Brotherhood), Abdul-Majid al-Zandani (Yemen), and a few North African Islamists.
p 157The internationalization of the Army of Allah now complete, it was time to establish a leadership committee, bringing together Sunni and Shia terrorist groups under the umbrella.
In early June  Tehran resolved to transform the HizbAllah into "the vanguard of the revolution" in the Muslim world. Toward this end Tehran organized an important terrorist summit whose primary objective would be setting up an international coordination committee to oversee the anticipated escalation... The HizbAllah International was established during a terrorist summit held in Tehran on June 21 - 23 1996, organised jointly by the Supreme Council for Intelligence Affairs and the IRGC high command...
Most important were the senior commanders who attended and agreed to integrate their forces into the new HizbAllah International framework. They included Ramadan Shallah (head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad); Ahmad Salah, also known as Salim (Egyptian Islamic Jihad); Imad Mughaniyah (Lebanese HizbAllah's Spectial Operations Command); Muhammad Ali Ahmad (a representative of Osama bin Laden); Ahmad Jibril (head of the PFLP-GC, or Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command); Imad al-Alami and Mustafa al-Liddawi (HAMAS) ; Abdallah Ocalan (head of the Kurdish People Party, the terrorist organization fighting against Turkey); an envoy of Turkey's Islamic Party, Refah; and a representative of George Habbash (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).
p 158They seem pretty tight by this time, and it's only 1996! Osama and Imad are on the leadership committee for global Islamist terror, and al Qaeda is but a gleam in bin Laden's eye...
A vital step was the establishment of the Committee of Three directly under Mahdi Chamran for the "coordination, planning, and attacks" by the new HizbAllah International. The committee members were Imad Mughaniyah, Ahmad Salah (Salim), and Osama bin Laden. Two of these three -- bin Laden and Salah -- are Sunnis. Their nomination to such high positions served as clear proof that Tehran recognized the centrality and importance of the Sunni Islamists. But Tehran did not relinquish control. The summit resolved that the Committee of Three would meet every month to go over operational proposals from the various Islamist terrorist organisations, decide on the most appropriate ones, and submit these to Chamran for Iran's approval. Special emphasis would be put on "operations designed to destabilize the [Persian] Gulf area and to weaken the countries of the region."
The first operational decision of the new Committee of Three was to recommend the execution of three terrorist operations, all of them already in the last phases of preparation. These operations represented the personal priorities of the three principals of the commitee: First, the bombing of the U.S. barracks in al-Khobar, Dhahran, for Osama bin Laden; second, the fatal stabbing of a U.S. female diplomat for Ahmad Salah (Salim); and third, the downing of TWA800 for Imad Mughaniyah. The ideological justification of these operations reveals the overall logic of the perpetrators. All the related communiques stressed the regional justifications for the operations in the context of the ongoing escalatory dynamics of the global anti-U.S. jihad.
p 208The Sunni terror masters were evidently quite comfortable playing their part in this global endeavour organised and driven by the Shia mullahs of Iran. Who says Shia and Sunni don't cooperate in terror?
On September 20 - 23, 1997, Iranian intelligence organized a major summit of terrorist leaders from all over the world under the cover of commemorating the anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War. Again the list of participants was impressive: Imad Mughaniyah and Abdul-Hadi Hammadi, both leaders of HizbAllah Special Operations; Ayman al-Zawahiri and another Egyptian "Afghan" commander who arrived from London; Ahmad Jibril, chief of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC); Osama Abu-Hamdan and Imad al-Alami of the HAMAS; Ramadan al-Shalah, chief of Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and three commanders representing branches of HizbAllah in the Persian Gulf States.
[I've used Bodansky's spelling for Mughaniyah's name,which has about 14 variations in the news coverage.]