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A Terrorist, Not A Militant, Finds Justice Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky
February 18, 2008

American National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is not the only one who suspects that the assassination of the Lebanese Hizbollah's chief of operations, Imad Mugniyeh, was an inside job done by Arabs and not necessarily by Israelis.  Thinking along similar lines and going into greater detail was Elias Beijani of the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council, a man with lifelong familiarity with the often inscrutable region of the world from which he comes: the Levant.
 
"Syria is behind this well-executed car explosion," he wrote in his periodical commentary on behalf of the LCCC, an organization of Lebanese exiles which is free of the political pressures that can be brought to bear on those who express their views in Damascus and, to a much lesser, but nevertheless dangerous extent, Beirut.

Mughniyeh, who was 46 years old, died Feb. 12, behind the wheel of a Japanese-made
SUV when he started the engine and thereby detonated a fatal explosive device.  The knee-jerk assumption among the Israeli mass media's Arab affairs experts was that the Mossad was responsible.  There was no official corroboration, however.

Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert's bureau here issued an instant disclaimer.  "Israel rejects the attempt by terrorist elements to ascribe to it any involvement in this incident," it said. However, Olmert's suddenly-upbeat mood and the satisfaction that radiated from other Israeli leaders gave the impression that the local Arabists were right.
 
Israel's alleged culpability and the legendary "long reach" of its counter-terror apparatus were ignored by the LCCC's Beijani as if they were irrelevant issues in this case.  Instead, he focused on the character and background of Syria's "mukhabarat" (Arabic for intelligence apparatus) which is dreaded understandably in Beirut as well as Damascus.
 
"The Syrian intelligence bureau's personnel were trained in the USSR by the KGB," he wrote four days after Mugniyeh's violent death, charging that it "adopted the Stalinist mentality and cruelty."
 
He contended that the "Mukhabarat" liquidates master terrorists before they can pose an internal threat to its operational hegemony and objectives, stating: "After they have been used and exposed, these terrorists and fundamentalists become a heavy burden on the Syrian dictatorship and its intelligence bodies.  Therefore, the Syrian security leadership tends to either eliminate them so that all secrets are buried with their coffins or exhibits them for trade or sale in the worldwide secret intelligence bodies."

He notes that this has been the norm since the 1970's and as examples he mentions Abdullah Ojlan, the Kurdish extremist who terrorized Turkey until its law enforcement authorities captured and imprisoned him and Ilich Ramirez Sanchez alias "Carlos the Jackal" whose clandestine operations wreaked havoc in the international community and the "Japanese Red Army" which slaughtered Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land in a midnight airport massacre. 

They among others allegedly were betrayed by the Syrians. There are several credible scenarios some of which exclude Israel totally and others which hint that the Israelis may have acted in collusion with agents from several of the moderate Arab states to do away with Mughniyeh before he could act against them.  The possibility that the CIA also may have played an important role in this conundrum cannot be discounted.

Mughniyeh's exploits during the the past three decades included car- and truck-bombs that killed more than 250 American servicemen, seizure of journalists, clerics and others to hold them as hostages as well as the hijacking of a TWA airliner, June 15,1985, in which a U.S. Navy diver, Robert Dean Stethem, was shot in the head.  Stethem was 23 years old when he died.

In short, Mughniyeh was an arch-terrorist.  No other term describes his tactics and way of life more accurately.  That is why the New York Times' headline about his demise in the Syrian capital is so inept.  It said, "Bomb in Syria Kills Militant Sought as Terrorist." The World Book Dictionary defines a militant as someone "active in serving or spreading a belief."  What then was Mugniyeh's belief?  He never stated it in words.  His only language was wanton murder, regardless who the chance victims might be.  He never stated his views or even appeared in public. 

Many of Hizbollah's adherents did not know anything about him until his number was up -- in Damascus of all places.   Hence, the major media's cop-out, to wit 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' does not apply.  A terrorist is a terrorist whether he or she operates in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or Israel. 

There is no justification for this kind of double standard in the free world's newspaper, radio and television coverage of international terrorism's tale of horrors. The U.S. State Department's spokesman, Sean McCormack, put it very simply when he said, "The world is a better place without this man in it."  His follow-up was equally apt: "One way or another he was brought to justice."

       

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