The Washington Post has a good article on the death of Imad Mughniyah, who was considered a pioneer in Islamic terrorism.
"Long before Osama bin Laden, there was Imad Mughniyah," said Bilal Saab, a Hezbollah expert at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center. "He introduced catastrophic suicide terrorism and many other tactics now used widely by many groups throughout the region."
The United States issued a sealed indictment against Mughniyah in 1985 -- three years before bin Laden formed al-Qaeda.
With Marines planning to mark this year's 25th anniversary of the barracks attack, the Marine commander at the time, Col. Tim Geraghty, reflected yesterday on Mughniyah's death in Syria. "It's very fitting that it was a car bomb. It was long overdue," he said from his home in Phoenix. "The fact that he was still active with a $5 million bounty on his head showed his genius for maintaining and running terrorism operations all this time."
Mughniyah died in a car bombing in Damascus on Tuesday, but New York Times reports who targeted him is still a mystery.
On Wednesday, Syrian and Iranian officials sought to blame Israel for the strike on Mr. Mugniyah, but Israel denied any involvement.
A State Department spokesman said he did not know who was responsible for his death.
The Israeli press, however, is writing under the assumption that the Mossad was the one behind the killing.
A nasty surprise awaited Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who was scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Wednesday to discuss the Lebanese crisis with Bashar Assad. Syria, the Iranian minister found out, is no longer a secure state, its intelligence is penetrable, and Iran's emissaries and friends - whether the leaders of Islamic Jihad or Hamas - are now, with Imad Mughniyah's assassination, in the first line of fire. Mottaki could have surmised that in Damascus, he too could be an easy target.
If Mottaki got a surprise, Assad was hit with the full blow that under his own nose, and not in fragmented Lebanon "full of traitors," as Hezbollah says, such a complex operation could have been cooked up and carried out.
But certainly the greatest shake-up will be felt by Hezbollah, whose intelligence structure, security capabilities, and assault architecture were built by Mughniyah himself.
This, therefore, is a strategic assassination, because of its potential repercussions beyond the removal of Hezbollah's supreme planner and operative.