Although most think of Bin Laden when mastermind terrorist comes to mind, Imad Mugniyah has long been the face of Hezbollah terrorism.
Often referred to as the “father of smoke” by the U.S. government because he was able to disappear with relative ease after putting into place terror attacks, such as the attack in Lebanon in 1983 that took the lives of hundreds of civilians.
In fact, by the mid-1980s, he was a fixture on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and public enemy number one of the CIA. Mugniyah spearheaded the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut that killed CIA agent Robert Ames and led to the murder of CIA Station Chief William Buckley.
He was also credited with overseeing the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and a number of other bombings in Bueno Aires in the early 1990s.
But in February 2008, the CIA discovered Mugniyah in Damascus and killed him with a car bomb. It was then thought it was Israel’s legendary Mossad who was responsible for the hit. But according to recent reports, the Mugniyah hit was a CIA operation, authorized by President George W. Bush and carried out by the CIA, under the direction of CIA then-director Michael Hayden.
It is suspected that the death warrant for Mugniyah was authorized as far back as the Reagan administration, following the bombings of the Marine barracks and the American Embassy. But at that time, Mugniyah was unable to be located.
Hayden, of course, needed authority in 2007 to kill Mugniyah, and that authority could have come from only one person: the President of the United States. Sources said it took President Bush “only about 30 seconds” to give consent to the CIA, apparently saying, “You have my blessing. Go with God.”
Because it was agreed that there would be little chance of capturing him, the CIA was faced with a “kill operation.” While arrangements were being made regarding the operation, the CIA and Mossad agents in Syria watched Mugniyah .
Finally, on February 12, 2008, the CIA caught Mugniyah alone. They made a positive ID and set off the bomb that killed him.