Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mossad behind assassination of Hezbollah terrorist: experts

The mysterious car bomb that killed Hezbollah's Imad Mugniyah in Damascus Tuesday looks like a Mossad operation, according to terrorism and intelligence experts.

Former CIA official Bruce Riedel told Ynetnews all signs seem to indicate the Mossad was behind the killing.

Riedel, who spent over 30 years with the CIA before serving as a senior advisor on South Asian and Middle East affairs under three US presidents, said Israel has already carried out similar operations in Syria.

Currently a senior fellow with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, he says Mugniyah's assassination proves Israel has successfully infiltrated Hizbullah and that even Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah knows he may also be in the crosshairs.

As Bill Roggio notes, the similar operation in Syria was another hit credited to the Mossad in 2004 that took out Hamas terrorist Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil.

Because of this link to Israel, some Israeli columnists are expecting Hezbollah to seek revenge.

It is reasonable to assume that Iran’s and Hizbullah’s top priority at this time, in the wake of the assassination, would be the desire to restore their deterrent power through international terror attacks. It is also reasonable to assume that they will attempt to do this through large-scale grandiose attacks against Israeli, Jewish, and American institutions and interests. It won’t happen immediately, as Iranian-Hizbullah terror networks have been dormant in recent years. It will take some time to bring them back into action and lull possible targets.

However, we can assume with near certainty that Hizbullah will settle the score – even if only to boost the confidence of its activists in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere in the world. This confidence will likely be undermined in the wake of the assassination of such a senior, compartmentalized, and heavily secured figure.

As we don’t know when the act of revenge will take place, the Israeli government and US Administration must boost security arrangements at all official and economic missions identified with them in the next few days. The intelligence coverage should also be enhanced. Israelis abroad, and particularly backpackers and businesspeople in South America and Africa, must be aware of the possibility that they may become a target for attack or abduction.

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