Dueling Spy Agencies: Mossad Says CIA Taking Too Much Claim/Credit For The 2008 Assassination Of Hezbollah Operative – Imad Mughniyeh
“The American Intelligence Community is taking too much credit/claim for the joint CIA/Mossad operation that killed infamous Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh,” according to an author and espionage expert for CBS News wrote today. Dan Raviv, a journalist who co-authored a book about Israeli espionage, with The Jerusalem Post commentator Yossi Melman, wrote that “Israeli officials were unhappy over recent leaks in the Washington Post, and Newsweek, that they believed were designed to exaggerate the CIA ‘s role in the assassination.”
“U.S. involvement in Mughniyeh’s killing was confirmed to the Washington Post last month, by five former U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,” according to an article on today’s (Feb.. 15, 2015) Jerusalem Post website. According to the Washington Post report, “the CIA obtained the legal authority to kill Mughniyeh; because, it was able to prove that “he was a continuing threat to Americans,” through his connection to the arming and training of Shi’ite militias in Iraq — who were targeting and killing U.S. forces,” at the time this decision was approved.
“The Mossad and the CIA worked together for months, monitoring Mughniyeh, and building a “pattern of life profile,” noting his habits, his tendencies, and potential places to carry out the hit, according to an article in the February 9, 2015 edition of Politico by Matthew Levitt. Mr, Levitt added that the CIA helped to manufacture and rigorously test an explosive device — meant to fit in the spare tire of an SUV, at a secret agency facility in Harvey Point, North Carolina, in the months leading up to the assassination. “One reason for the rigorous testing,” Mr. Levitt noted, was “to ensure the potential blast area would be contained; and, not result in [udue] collateral damage.” According to the January 30, 2015 article in The Washington Post by Adam Goldman, “it was the Israelis who first approached the CIA about a joint operation to kill Mughniyeh in Damascus; and, it was well known that the agency had a well-established clandestine infrastructure in Damascus that the Israelis could utilize.”
Mr. Levitt wrote, “Mossad officials suggested occasional walks in the evening – when Mughniyeh was un-escorted – presented an opportunity. CIA officers with extensive undercover experience secured a safe house in a building near his apartment. Planning for the operation was exhaustive. An Israeli proposal to place a bomb in the saddlebags of a bicycle or motorcycle was rejected because of concerns that the explosive charge might not project outward properly. The bomb had to be repeatedly tested and reconfigured to minimize the blast area. The location where Mughniyeh was killed was close to a girls’ school.”
“The authority to kill Mughniyeh required a presidential finding by President George W. Bush. The Attorney General, The Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Adviser and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department — all signed off on the operation,” one former intelligence official said. This official added, “getting the authority to kill Mughniyeh was a “rigorous and tedious” process. “What we had to show was he was a continuing threat to Americans,” the official said, noting that Mughniyeh had a long history of targeting Americans dating back to his role in planning the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.”
“The decision was we had to have absolute confirmation that it was self-defense,” the official said.
The details of the assassination contained in the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Politco, paint a picture of the CIA leading the effort, with Mossad assisting, something that has “irked Israeli officials,” Mr Raviv writes in today’s Jerusalem Post, Mr. Raviv notes that Mossad officials “insist that the Mughniyeh operation was entirely “blue and white” — a reference to the Israeli flag — with hardly any “red, white and blue in it.” “Some Israelis, it seems, object to the Americans taking too much credit ,” for the operation Mr. Raviv writes. “What follows, is based on what knowledgeable Israelis have been telling Western officials and diplomats,” for years. Israeli intelligence officials claim that “U.S. intelligence operatives participated in the deliberations, the intelligence gathering, the surveillance, and some of the logistics of the assassination; but, they [Mossad] call the assassination itself — an Israeli operation: lock, stock, and barrel.” Mr. Raviv adds that “most of the preparations for the hit on Mughniyeh were already made by Mossad agents, who had tracked the Hezbollah operative — as he came in and out of his Damascus apartment.” “At least according to what Israelis have been telling Western officials, the Mossad did not need the CIA for active management of the operation,” Mr. Raviv noted. “They had already gleaned all the details necessary about Mughniyeh’s routine; and, his hideout in Damascus. The CIA was there, as they put it — to fill in any missing intelligence information; and, provide extra eyes in Damascus.”
“Wary of killing innocent bystanders, the Americans withdrew their cooperation from the mission [at one point]; but, later rejoined after then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert provided video tape evidence that the bomb — which would be used to kill Mughniyeh — would be precise.” “Mughniyeh’s Damascus hideout was in close proximity to a girls school; and, the Americans were adamant that an operation to kill him would have to be pinpoint, so as not to harm anyone else in the vicinity. The Hezbollah operative was also wont to meet with senior Iranian military and intelligence figures, men whom the Americans were determined to not to touch — since Washington had no desire to provoke Iran,” the Jerusalem Post noted.
“The actual bomb used to kill the terrorist was developed and perfected in Israel, not in the United States as the articles in the Post, Newsweek, and Politico indicated. “Once the Israelis received confirmation that Mughniyeh was alone, and heading to his car, near his apartment, the order was given to intelligence officials in Tel Aviv, to activate the explosive device by remote control.”
Ah, the wilderness of mirrors that intelligence operations often are — are certainly present here. My guess is, that the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Maybe both services are giving each other top cover; and, the real answer will never be known outside a small circle of those involved. Even then, some of those individuals, probably don’t know the entire picture. The really good thing here is, that a very bad, evil individual, who had done great harm and was directly responsible for mass murder; and, the killing of hundreds of Americans and Israelis, among others — got his banquet of consequences — at the hands of those he had so terribly harmed. ‘The Prince Of Darkness,’ is no more. V/R, RCP