Breaking: Imad Mughniyeh Killed By “Israeli Agents”; UPDATED

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Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh, one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, has been killed by “Israeli agents“, according to Hezbollah. How significant was the kill?

Mughniyeh, who has been in hiding for years, was among the fugitives indicted in the United States for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed. He was also suspected of masterminding attacks that killed more than 200 Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s when he was then the Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s security chief.

How was he killed? It’s not exactly known, but:

The statement did not say how he was killed, but the announcement came a few hours after a late night explosion in Damascus, capital of neighboring Syria, destroyed a vehicle. Witnesses in Damascus said at the time that a passerby was killed as security forces sealed off the area and removed the body, but authorities there would not give details.

Iran’s English-language satellite station Press TV on Wednesday said the person slain in the Damascus explosion turned out to be Mughniyeh. It said an Iranian school and a Syrian intelligence office were in the same area of Kafar Soussa where the explosion occurred.

More info as it becomes available.

Update: Back in January, Erick Stackelbek wrote an article entitled “ Imad Mughniyeh: More Dangerous Than Osama?”.

Hezbollah “superterrorist” Imad Mugniyeh. Who is Mugniyeh? Merely the innovator of today’s jihadi terrorism, and an inspiration to everyone from Osama bin Laden to Hassan Nasrallah…

He now resides in Iran. And that’s only the beginning.

The Newsweek piece has some additional interesting tidbits about Mugniyeh:

Four serving U.S. intel and counterterrorism officials, anonymous when discussing sensitive material, said Mughniyeh is prominent in recent reporting from the field about Hizbullah activity. Bruce Riedel, a veteran Mideast expert recently retired from the CIA, told NEWSWEEK there is “no question he is heavily involved in terrorist contingency plans in case of a U.S.-Iran confrontation.”

And that’s not all.

So what is Mughniyeh up to? Two of the U.S. officials interviewed by NEWSWEEK said field reports indicate that he travels between Beirut, Damascus and Tehran. One official said that some reports also suggest he has visited Baghdad. According to Riedel, Mughniyeh is Hizbullah’s chief of “external operations,” and keeps in touch with cells around the world. FBI and other counterterror officials have said they believe Hizbullah has recruitment and fund-raising cells in the United States. “He is the brain behind all Hizbullah’s military activity,” says Lt. Col. Guy Hazoot, operations officer of the Galilee Brigade on Israel’s northern border.

Take note of where it says he travels through. Now go back to today’s reports and see where it says he was killed.

Update: Reuters:

The group was also linked to suicide bomb attacks against the U.S. embassy and Marine headquarters in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Moughniyah’s brother was killed in a similar attack in Beirut in 1994. Reports at the time suggested Imad was the real target. Moughniyah had spent much of the 1990s in Iran making only few visits to Beirut…

Some reports suggested he was in charge of Hezbollah’s operations abroad and link him to attacks on Israeli targets in Latin America in the 1990s.

JPost:

The head of Hizbullah’s military wing, Imad Mughniyeh, considered the organization’s second in command, was killed in a car bombing in Damascus late Tuesday night, Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television reported Wednesday.

Mughniyeh was reportedly very close to Hizbullah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. He also served as Hizbullah’s liason with Iran.

Another JPost article points out that Mughniyeh was close to Yasser Arafat.

Update: Alalam News in Iran, keeping in mind the news medium considers him a martyr:

BEIRUT, Feb 13–A Hezbollah official said on Wednesday that one of the resistance’s top commanders, Imad Mughnieh, had been martyred in Syria and blamed Israeli occupying regime for his assassination.

The official said Mughnieh was martyred in a car bombing in the Syrian capital late on Tuesday.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television interrupted its normal programming to broadcast music to mark his martyrdom…

That’s the first Middle Eastern report I’ve seen.

Here’s his extended rapsheet.