A funny thing happened at the funeral of Imad Mughniyeh. Those who had for years been denying any connection with him and his international terrorist activities—Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah–suddenly admitted that he was one of their favorite people.At the same time, other critical points came out. Mughniyeh’s vital position as the link between those three allies, in their conduct of terrorism and subversion, stood out clearly. In addition, Mughniyeh’s career as an international terrorist, who often operated against Western targets, showed how Hizbullah—along with its backers in Tehran and Damascus—were second only to al-Qaida in their global operations of violence.Let’s first look at the record of the man who Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah were so eager to praise and ready to revenge. Mughniyeh, a Lebanese citizen, first worked with the PLO and then with Hizbullah, leading the latter group’s main terrorist operations. During the 1980s alone, Mughniyeh was involved in killing 340 American and French soldiers in the bombing of a peacekeeping force base; 63 civilians in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut; kidnappings and executions of Westerners living in Lebanon; attacks on the U.S. embassy in Kuwait; hijacking an American airliner in which a U.S. citizen was murdered; killing two U.S. officials in Lebanon; and hijacking two Kuwait Airways’ passenger planes.In 1994, he organized the bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Argentina, killing 86 civilians. The official Argentinean investigation concluded Iranian intelligence had hired Mughniyeh and his unit for this job.As a result of his activities, Mughniyeh was on the U.S. list of ten most wanted terrorists, with a $25 million reward on his head. Interpol had an extradition warrant against him due to the Argentina attack. But traveling between Lebanon, Iran, and Syria—protected and often working for the latter two governments–Mughniyeh continued his career of violence up to the day of his death.With the exception of the September 11 attack, Mughniyeh was probably responsible for more terrorist violence and killings than any other individual over the last quarter-century.How did Iran’s rulers respond to his demise? They all praised him. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called him, “An example for the young generation to follow.” Powerful former president and current Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani referred to Mughniyeh as a “great figure” whose actions Iran did not consider terrorism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad eulogized him as, “An outstanding leader from Hizbullah,” though up to his death that organization denied Mughniyeh held such a post.Hizbullah’s own leader, Hassan Nasrallah, used his funeral oration to threaten to wipe out Israel, paralleling what many Iranian leaders say. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons that threat becomes most plausible. But Hizbullah hopes to achieve the same end through lower-level violence. Nasrallah declared “open war” on Israel and boasted he would launch attacks anywhere in the world, presumably against anyone he deemed to be standing in the way of his destructive dream.As for Syria, where Mughniyeh was repeatedly given help and safe haven, he was being protected in a highly secure area under government control. An Iranian television station reported he was killed near a Syrian intelligence base at a time a major meeting of Palestinian groups was taking place, including Hamas leader Khalad Mishal, who is based in Damascus. Two respected Arab newspapers claimed Mughniyeh was the guest of top Syrian leaders and had been meeting with them and Hamas chiefs to plan the kind of bloody deeds he was so good at doing.Revenge was also threatened by such pro-Mughniyeh groups as Hamas and the Muqtada Sadr forces in Iraq. Not all Arabs reacted in this way. In Kuwait, for example, it was pointed out that Mughniyeh had been involved in the murder of many Arabs and Muslims, in Kuwait, Lebanon, and Iraq.A Lebanese newspaper backed by Syria and Hizbullah noted that Mughniyeh’s death was the hardest blow to Hizbullah ever. Ironically, however, many in the past had refused to condemn Hizbullah as a terrorist organization—including the EU—because they said there was insufficient evidence of such involvement.As one expert on Hizbullah, Magnus Ranstorp, retorted, too many had “allowed themselves to be misled” about Hizbullah use of international terrorism and its orchestration by Iran and Syria. “And so Hizbullah was allowed to have its cake and eat it too” since it could carry out terrorism without any significant international price or punishment.When Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah embraces such a person as a great hero and role model they are:–Openly admitting their association with many past acts of terrorism.–Making clear that they favor murderous attacks deliberately designed to kill civilians.–Showing their past denials of involvement to be lies.–Urging people to commit many more such attacks in future, include genocide against Israel and its people.Now that Hizbullah, Iran, and Syria have “taken credit” for Mughniyeh’s past killings and urged many more in the future, the world should confront the fact that these groups are engaged in a systematic terrorist policy and react accordingly.
[Barry Rubin is aslo editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal His latest books are The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).]
Note: The Kuwaiti government is not amused by the participation of two of its own MP’s to the terrorists funeral either:
The two Kuwaiti members of parliament who had participated in the commemoration of Imad Mughniyeh – officer of high standing of the Shiite Lebanese movement Hezbollah killed in Damascus on February 13 – were expelled from their party’s ranks and denounced of having founded Hezbollah Kuwait, an illegal organisation, which is considered hostile to the country, the Kuwait Times reports, adding that Adnan Abdul-Samad and Ahmad Lari were expelled from the Shiite party in opposition, Popular Bloc, “for having commemorated the terrorist who brutally killed two Kuwaitis during the hijacking of the plane Jabriya” committed in 1988.
During the funeral commemoration in honour of Mughniyeh, the two politicians affirmed that no evidence for his involvement in the hijacking of the plane en route between Thailand and Kuwait existed. Meanwhile, four lawyers filed a complaint against the two parliamentarians and other politicians, including former parliament affairs minister Abdulhadi al-Saleh, accusing them of “having founded and being members of Hezbollah Kuwait, jeopardising the national unity and having declared fidelity to Hezbollah in Lebanon.” Although there are no proofs of the existence of such an organisation, many in Kuwait believe in its illegal activity. (ANSAmed).