Before many Americans ever heard of Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, there was Imad Mugniyah. Mugniyah was the mastermind behind Hezbollah and attacks that claimed many American lives in Lebanon. He was responsible for bombing the American Embassy in Beirut, as well as murdering the CIA Station Chief.
Throughout the 1980’s, he took credit for a myriad of additional operations including bombing military barracks at the Beirut airport and hijacking TWA Flight 847. It’s also long been suspected that he was behind two bombings in Buenos Aires: one was of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish Community Center in 1994. He quickly rose to the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Ironically, in the same way that Mugniyah had killed many before him, the terrorist leader was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008. The hit on this high valued target was authorized by former President George W Bush and carried out by the CIA, although no operatives who were involved in the mission will go on record to either confirm or deny this report, since the CIA is such a secretive organization and details regarding these types of missions are typically never de-classified.
A former official who was involved in the operation but refuses to reveal his name provided insight regarding the CIA’s involvement and also confirmed that the agency was tipped off about his location from data supplied by Israel’s Mossad. The details surrounding Mugniyah’s death are interesting since a ban on assassinations has been in place since 1975. The details surrounding the assassination of suspected terrorist’s falls into a gray area of this ban, however, theoretically making the events that transpired in this particular mission acceptable under both national and international law.
The death of Mugniyah demonstrates the importance of the work that CIA operatives are involved in day-in and day-out, year after year. Gathering intelligence can be painstakingly slow and perseverance is often times put to the test. In the end, however, keeping American’s safe is often what drives CIA agents to continue pressing forward.