Skip to comments.Likely Mastermind Of Tower Attacks
Posted on 12/12/2001 11:47:54 AM PST by Plummz
He has blown up U.S. embassies and car-bombed a U.S. military barracks. He has hijacked U.S. commercial airliners and murdered Americans. He has kidnapped and tortured a top CIA officer and vowed through terror to drive the United States from his country. Do you know who he is?
If you guessed Osama bin Laden, you're wrong. The correct answer is Imad Fayez Mugniyeh (pronounced MOOG-NEE-YEH), a Lebanese Shiite long considered one of the world's most ruthless and elusive killers. The CIA has been tracking him since 1984 when he masterminded the kidnapping in Beirut of CIA station chief William Buckley, apparently on orders from Iran. Now evidence is beginning to mount that Mugniyeh has deep ties to bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network and may have been directly involved in planning the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We know Mugniyeh has a relationship to bin Laden. We know that," one U.S. official tells Insight. "Did he have a role in planning the outrages of September 11? We can't rule it out. Hezbollah is part of bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders, and Mugniyeh is the head of Hezbollah's special-operations branch."
Twice the United States spotted Mugniyeh on international flights and sought to have him arrested. In 1986, he was leaving Charles de Gaulle Airport after several days of secret negotiations with the French government. Although the CIA provided a copy of the passport he was using, the French declined to stop him. Nine years later, he was flying back to Beirut from Khartoum after a meeting with bin Laden in the Sudan. The United States arranged for his Middle East Airways plane to make an unscheduled stopover in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi authorities refused to force him to leave the plane. Neither the French nor the Saudis wanted him on their hands.
"Imad Mugniyeh is one of the most demonic of the militant Islamic leaders," says Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia. "He appears to serve as a bridge between the 1980s, when the violence was primarily Shiite, and today, when it is primarily Sunni."
Mugniyeh and his Iranian backers are Shiite Muslims; bin Laden and his followers are Sunnis. Most terrorism analysts and Islamic scholars insist that the two Muslim sects are on less-friendly terms than Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. But when it comes to terrorism, they are dead wrong.
The eldest of four children, Mugniyeh was born in the village of Tir Dibba in the mountains above the Lebanese coastal city of Tyre on July 12, 1962. His father, Sheik Muhammad Jawad Mugniyeh, was praised as "one of Shia Lebanon's best jurists" by American Islamic scholar Fouad Ajami.
As a high-school dropout, Mugniyeh was recruited by Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction and later joined the elite Force 17, Arafat's personal security service. Once the Palestinians were kicked out of Lebanon in 1983, Mugniyeh and his two brothers, Fuad and Jihad, joined a new organization set up by Iran called Hezbollah (Party of God). Its goal was to drive the Western powers out of Lebanon.
Imad Mugniyeh became Hezbollah's star recruit, reporting directly to Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-Pour, Iran's ambassador to Syria. His terrorist pedigree began with a bang when he organized the April 18, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including Robert Ames, the CIA's top Middle East operations officer, and many of his best agents.
In October 1983, Mugniyeh was back at work. This time, with Iranian and Syrian help, he plotted the twin suicide truck-bomb attacks in Beirut that took the lives of 242 U.S. Marines and 58 French troops.
For many years Mugniyeh's personal involvement in those early bombings remained obscure. It wasn't until he kidnapped the new CIA station chief to Beirut, William Buckley, in April 1984 that the U.S. intelligence community began to get a fix on him.
David Jacobsen was one of a dozen Americans and Frenchmen kidnapped in Beirut in the 1980s by Mugniyeh and his pro-Iranian militiamen. At one point he shared a cell with Buckley at an undisclosed location and remembers his ordeal well. "I was chained to the floor; I was blindfolded. The person at my feet, I later learned, was Terry Anderson, and the person at the head was Bill Buckley."
Mugniyeh's guards tried to keep them from speaking to one another. "One of the chilling moments for me and for Terry Anderson was to hear Bill Buckley cough," says Jacobsen. "He was very, very sick. He was delirious. I heard him say, 'I don't know what happened to my body; it was so strong 30 days ago.'"
The CIA now believes that Buckley was tortured to death by Mugniyeh personally, who extracted whatever secrets he could and then murdered him. Buckley was honored by CIA director William H. Webster at a posthumous ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on May 13, 1988, and a star in his honor was carved into the wall of CIA headquarters the 51st.
Mugniyeh burst onto the international scene with the brash June 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 from Greece to Beirut, where he held 39 Americans hostage for 17 days. Wearing a ski mask, Mugniyeh prowled the aisles of the aircraft looking for U.S. military personnel and discovered U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. He tortured and shot Stethem, then dumped his body out on the runway in full view of international TV cameras. Later, the FBI was able to identify Mugniyeh's fingerprints in the rear lavatory of the aircraft and indicted him for Stethem's murder.
Mugniyeh also murdered for personal reasons, including the release of a family member. The man who initiated him in the art of bomb-making was his brother-in-law, Mustapha Badr-el-Din, whose crippled legs prevented him from joining a Beirut militia. Badr-el-Din plied his trade by designing the bombs used in a series of devastating attacks against Kuwait. He was arrested and sentenced to death for his crimes by the Kuwaiti government.
In April 1988, Mugniyeh orchestrated the hijacking of a Kuwait Airlines flight to Bangkok. On board were three members of the Kuwaiti royal family. In exchange for their freedom, Mugniyeh demanded the release of his brother-in-law and 16 other Shiite prisoners in Kuwait, known collectively as the "Ad-Dawaa 17."
The plane made a three-day stopover in the eastern Iranian city of Mashad, where some sources believe Mugniyeh personally boarded the aircraft and brought on additional hijackers and weapons. Next, they flew to Cyprus, where two Kuwaiti passengers were murdered and dumped onto the runway in a stunning replay of the TWA hijacking three years earlier. They ended up in Algiers, where negotiators from the Iranian and Algerian governments, as well as Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, arranged safe passage for all the hijackers.
Intelligence officials believe Mugniyeh is seeking personal vengeance on the United States and Israel for the deaths of his brothers, which explains in part his willingness to lend his expertise to operations organized by other groups. Mugniyeh's brothers were killed in retaliatory attacks in Lebanon believed to have been carried out by Israeli and U.S. operatives.
"Bin Laden is a schoolboy in comparison with Mugniyeh," an Israeli-intelligence officer told Jane's Foreign Report recently. "The guy is a genius, someone who refined the art of terrorism to its utmost level. We studied him and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons, which we have given up trying to understand. The killing of his two brothers by the Americans only inflamed his strong motivation."
His brother, Jihad Mugniyeh, died in 1985 when a car bomb intended for Hezbollah leader Sheik Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah killed 75 people outside Fadlallah's home in Beirut. Hezbollah blamed the CIA for the attack. His other brother, Fuad Mugniyeh, died in December 1994 when another car bomb exploded near the mosque where Fadlallah preached his weekly sermon, directly outside of a shop owned by Fuad. The car-bomb attack reportedly was ordered by Israel in reprisal for the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires earlier that year which killed 86.
In the 1990s Mugniyeh shifted focus from Lebanon and the Persian Gulf to launch a series of dramatic international operations. On March 17, 1992, a Hezbollah strike team leveled the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 persons and wounding 242. Hezbollah said the attack was intended to avenge the killing of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sheik Abbas Musawi, whose convoy was obliterated by Israeli helicopter gunships in South Lebanon one month earlier.
Next was the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) community-center bombing in July 1994. Investigating Judge Juan Jose Galeano told Insight recently, "There was lots of Iranian diplomatic activity just before the attack which remains unexplained. They all got out before the bomb went off."
U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources believe Mugniyeh was involved in the planning of the AMIA attack and may have parachuted into Argentina on an Iranian service passport at the last minute to activate sleeper networks and handle logistics for the bomb. "Hezbollah claimed responsibility for that attack," a State Department counterterrorism analyst tells Insight, "and Mugniyeh heads the terror wing of that organization."
Media Credit: Charles Hazard/Insight
Outstanding article. Timmerman is excellent.
This is a very, very important sentence from the article:
Jane's reported in October that for the last two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with bin Laden, Mugniyeh and bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. Top U.S. officials were briefed on these ties on Oct. 26, Insight reported ("Iran Cosponsors Al-Qaeda Terrorism," Dec. 3).
It is time for the West to admit that the only way to get the terroists is to use THEIR tactics. We must have asassination squads and pay huge bounties to whomever is capable of getting these guys. The killing must be wholesale, non-stop, and world wide.
Arrest is too civilized. Put a price on his head. Dead or alive.
Attempts to belittle Bin Laden's significance to world terrorism merely indicates some anti-Bush agenda on your part for some reason. Otherwise I see no reason for the either/or assertion. As though there would be no assistance to one by the other. It is good to attack the terror network where it is most exposed and most blatant. It is an excellent demonstration of what Mad Mo's murderous minions can expect now that there is a real president in the White House.
Put a bounty on the heads of these terrorists, and kill them whenever and wherever we can catch them.
Here's how I suggest we deal with the French position in this matter: Tell them they can keep him as long as they care to, and can suffer the terrorist consequences of his buddies trying to spring him from a frog prison. And tell them we reserve the right to go find him wherever and however we can, when they cut him loose.
Included in that right we claim for ourselves is the right to take him to the nearest American terriroty -- perhaps the honored ground on the Normandy coast where row on row of crosses honor the Americans who are buried there -- give him a quick trial, and a proper execution -- and leave the French the body to dispose of as they choose.
Bingo. And every time a terrorist domino falls (Somalia, Iraq), the Arab street loses its awe of these killers.
Recruiting dries up as well, because there just aren't that many human beings who want to die in a losing cause.
Big ole bombs coming out of big ole bombers scare the hell out of the most "fearsome" fighters.
The CIA, which now can essentially do anything it wants, should throw the kitchen sink at Mugniyeh after what he has done to them.
That's originally a line from one Homer J. Simpson.
Yup. You are 100% correct.
And this would surprise you...why?
(See related thread where French are DEMANDING? that we don't execute terrorist in custody.)
Bin Laden first met Mugniyeh in 1993, according to his former chief of security, Ali Mohammad. In a plea agreement entered on Oct. 20, 2000, in the Southern District of New York for his involvement in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa, Mohammad acknowledges that he "arranged security" for the meeting that took place while bin Laden was living in the Sudan. Mohammad said Mugniyeh's Hezbollah group "provided explosives training for al-Qaeda and al-Jihad," the two groups most closely tied to bin Laden. "Iran supplied Egyptian Jihad with weapons. Iran also used Hezbollah to supply explosives that were disguised to look like rocks."
An earlier affidavit by FBI Agent Daniel Coleman, based on information provided former members of al-Qaeda, reported that bin Laden personally exhorted his followers to "put aside [their] differences with Shiite Muslim terrorist organizations, including the government of Iran and its affiliated terrorist group Hezbollah, to cooperate against the perceived common enemy, the United States and its allies."
Mugniyeh and Iran go way back, and their close association disturbs some analysts at the U.S. State Department, which is trying to rehabilitate the regime of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. "There is no evidence that Mugniyeh was one of the planners of the Sept. 11 attacks," a State Department official tells Insight. "In fact, there is evidence to the contrary."
Go read Bodansky's book on Bin Laden.
Bodansky lays it on Iran, not Iraq. He says Iran is the real national enabler of Al Qaeda Islamic terrorism
Hmm. I don't read Goldberg's African invasion plans, and I doubt more people do than those who watch The Simpsons. but whatever.
If Buckley is the same guy I'm thinking of I wonder how many other UN/CIA agents we have in the field? I also wonder how many other nations employ secret police personell in UN operations.
*shakes head in disgust*
May we never forget.
LT.Col. William F. Buckley served with the 320th Special Forces Detachment which became the 11th Special Forces Group. He was employed by the CIA from 1955 to 1957 and again from 1965 as Lebanon station chief until his untimely death.
Kidnapped in Beirut: March 16, 1984 by Islamic Jihad terrorists.
Held in Iran: November 25, 1986. Many CIA operatives worldwide died as Zawahiri extracted information from Buckley.
Body Recovered: December 27, 1991. The decomposed body of CIA officer William Buckley was dumped in southern Beirut early Friday, nearly eight years after being kidnapped and tortured by pro-Iranian extremists.
Remembered as Heroes: December 30, 1991. Two men (Buckley and Higgins) who met wretched deaths at the hands of Lebanese captors arrived home in flag-draped coffins and were honored as "American heroes" by leaders. ''Today the nation gathers into its arms two of its bravest sons . . . patriot-warriors who died trying to bring peace to a ravaged land."
AL QUERDA HEADING FOR CAVES then after a day or so of bombing ALL QUERDA FLEEING CAVES.