The Mughniyah Assassination:

This interesting analysis raises three possibilities regarding Syrian involvement in the assassination of Hezbollah terrorist chief Mughniyah in Damascus: (1) Syria was the perpetrator, as part of a deal with the U.S., or at least an attempt to get in the U.S.'s good graces; (2) Someone else, most likely Israel, did it, and Syria was knowingly harboring America's second most wanted terrorist after Osama Bin Laden, which will lead to grave tensions with the U.S.; (3) Someone else, most likely Israel, did it, but the Syrian government wasn't aware that Mughniyah was there, meaning that "Assad's rule is so weak that terror groups can establish a base there, compelling the U.S. to take preventive steps." One way or another, it's likely to be a momentous event in Syrian-U.S. relations.

Jim at FSU (mail):
Thanks, I never heard of this. They've been trying to catch him for what, 20-30 years now?
2.13.2008 10:36pm
How about (4) Intramural terrorist dispute?
2.13.2008 10:46pm
Ben P (mail):
The theory that Syria might be behind this asassination is interesting.

However, I see a problem that makes differentiating situations 2 and 3 difficult.

Given that Mughinyah was lebanese and was apparently a senior officer in Hezbollah, the only logical places for him to have been are either Syria or Lebanon, and most likely both.

The US and or Israel (and possibly the US through Israel) had to have known this.

I think we've also known for some time that Assad has neither the desire, nor the ability to agressively prosecute Hezbollah elements within his country. he's said as much publically, and it's most likely that even were he to reverse his position, doing so would comprimise his hold on power enough to make effective prosecution very difficult.

Yet, the US had maintained some level of relations with Syria. This is why I think that excepting the possibility of situation A, not much will change between the two countries.
2.13.2008 10:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Could be, John, but that still leaves any of the 3 possibilities re Syrian involvement open.
2.13.2008 10:54pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Ben, according to what I read and heard today, M spent many years in Iran.
2.13.2008 11:03pm
Anon. E. Mouse:
Give this report, option 1 seems unlikely.
2.13.2008 11:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Thank god they didn't waterboard him.
2.13.2008 11:44pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
One way or another, it's likely to be a momentous event in Syrian-U.S. relations.

That's highly unlikely. Syria's tolerance of Mughniyeh's presence on its soil is one very minor item in the enormously long list of instances of Syria's aggressive hostility against the US and American interests, stretching back over decades (with perhaps a brief lull following the invasion of Iraq, when Syria was temporarily cowed). It's hard to see why it would have the slightest effect on either country's policies or actions.
2.13.2008 11:50pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Elliott wins the thread!
2.13.2008 11:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Grave tensions.' Be still, my heart.
2.13.2008 11:53pm
Gaius Marius:
The U.S. should take out Assad and his entire extended family.
2.13.2008 11:57pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Whoever did it was rather tidy. A small bomb either under the driver's seat or under his floorboard (magnets make placement easier). That suggests Israeli origin to me. Most of the other groups in the area tend to figure half a ton of explosives in a nearby car is more like it. What's the sense of bumping somebody off if you can't kill dozens of bystanders and ruin half a block, too?
2.14.2008 12:02am
Well if we did do it or helped please do not tell lefty Senators and Reps or let the ACLU know or they will try to prosecute the heros who did this for the crime of homocide. Yea and it would make us look bad to the world community and Obama would have to be elected so we could get back in the good graces of the citizens of the world. Whisper please.
2.14.2008 12:15am
I hope they read him his rights before they detonated the bomb.
2.14.2008 12:37am
...the Syrian government wasn't aware that Mughniyah was there...
Possible perhaps, but pretty damn unlikely. Syria has knowingly harbored Nazi war criminals like Alois Brenner in the past, and a string of terrorists and terrorist organizations, e.g., Hamas's Meshal, through the present. Also, the majority of foreign jihadis that we have killed, captured, or know about in Iraq have entered that country from Syria. Why would anyone imagine that Syria was unknowingly harboring this particular Hezbollah stalwart?
2.14.2008 2:52am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Yes, we should not tell anyone, because this attack has been loudly condemned by many prominent politicians in the Democratic party. Why, check out this quote here:


Or this one:


Oh, wait, nobody has spoken out against this, and nobody will. Keep playing with yourselves, though - I hear it feels great.
2.14.2008 6:08am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Let's wait to see what happens if, in fact, we did it.

It wouldn't make much sense for, say, Maxine Waters to condemn something which might be a matter of promotion slowdown. "Here's to a bloody war or a sickly season."

But if the CIA did it, in between shipping drugs to Watts, I expect we'd hear about it.
2.14.2008 8:06am
The paranoid Dr. P:
There is a fourth option: He's not dead. A staged assasination to give him freedom of movement. After all, if he is dead, and wearing a modified face (plastic surgery in Iran), it would be difficult to put intellegence resources to tracking him.

Isn't my tin foil hat nice?
2.14.2008 9:17am
rarango (mail):
Whoever did it, the method is a great example of the kind of covert actions that work very well against terrorism and dont do a lot of damage to any innocent bystanders. This type of targetted assassination is far more effective than large scale military operations. This dude also had a five million dollar reward on his head, so there may be nothing more complex at play than greed.
Whatever, another dirtbag joining his 72 virgins (or raisens depending on your interpretation of arabic).
2.14.2008 9:55am
Let's see, the three governments in possession of the best information about Mughniya's demise are the United States, Israel and Syria. All of those governments have reputations for telling lies to the public and telling lies in private to each other.

No, I don't think I want to speculate on this one. Good riddance, Imad.
2.14.2008 10:34am
Cato (mail):
Syria is in deep, deep trouble, but not from Israel. Recently, because of Syria's close ties with Iran, Shia clergy have been paying citizens to convert from Sunni to Shia brand of Islam. This has not gone unnoticed by Sunnis, particularly the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. Those guys are very territorial religiously and will use whatever means to prevent Iranian Shia influence.
2.14.2008 11:00am
Ben P (mail):

Isn't my tin foil hat nice?

Someone at CNN is wearing that same hat
2.14.2008 11:34am
let's see-hasn't a martyr just been created? won't more just replace him? wouldn't we have been better off negotiating? had we exercised all our options by aggressively diplomating with him?
2.14.2008 11:48am
Houston Lawyer:
Would this killing have violated the executive order against assasinations? I agree that it is likely an Isreali operation since dozens of innocent bystanders weren't killed.

I also like that his name appears to rhyme with meshugunah.
2.14.2008 11:50am
Whoever is responsible for this reprehensible act should be discovered and punished publicly! That explosion added greatly to the shamefully wasteful and planet-damaging output of carbon in our atmosphere.
2.14.2008 11:59am
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
One way or another, it's likely to be a momentous event in Syrian-U.S. relations.

That's just wishcasting. Anyone of (1)-(3) could be correct, or any of the other likely possibilities, and it still won't be momentous. The U.S has a dim view of Syria, but its no longer in a fighting mood. I bet you won't even hear about a low-grade response like sanctions.
2.14.2008 12:20pm
as it's a mystery, why not simply announce that we killed him. it's kind of like declaring victory and leaving. we get the props for killing a human virus who should have been killed long ago-I am sure all candidates can agree it was a good thing, right?
2.14.2008 1:06pm
The Unbeliver (mail):
wouldn't we have been better off negotiating? had we exercised all our options by aggressively diplomating with him?

To mangle a quote: Assassination is an extreme form of negotiation. Or is it just "diplomacy by other means"?

Whatever; pass me a tin foil hat while I congratulate an unnamed national power for their newly effective foreign policy.
2.14.2008 1:28pm
Waldo (mail):
A fourth possibility (5th counting comments) seems more likely:

Someone else, most likely Israel, did it, with the acquiesence of Syria, in exchange for: (1) not pursuing the Hariri case too aggressively, (2) not asking pointed questions about a facility in eastern Syria that no longer exists (thanks to Israel), (3) not pursuing those assisting Al Qaeda infiltrators into Iraq, (4) a draft pick to be named later, or (5) any or all of the above.

Barring an unexpected event, Syrian-U.S. relations remain unchanged.
2.14.2008 8:29pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
Robert Lindsay, certainly no fan of the Israel government, doesn't think they did it. That post has a lot of good info on Mr. Mughniyah.
2.14.2008 9:24pm
If we ever do find out who was responsible, don't be surprised if there is more than one culprit. I doubt that Israel, for instance, would singlehandedly engage in this; it's very risky even for an accomplished intelligence outfit to do this in enemy territory. Rather, it could have been anti-Syrian lebanese elements like Lebanese Forces (Geagea is out now, right?) heavily supported and funded clandestinely by Israel. Supposedly, such elements wouldn't raise suspicion being in Damascus.
2.15.2008 9:39am
Orielbean (mail):
2.15.2008 12:06pm