"Bin Laden cowered & hid. Mughniyeh spent his life giving us the finger"
April 30, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

It's been five years since the death of Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. No one ever claimed responsibility for killing him. Hezbollah publicly blames Israel's Mossad, a charge they unsurprisingly deny. So, who killed The Driver? posted by zarq (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by tommasz at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2013

Nice post, hadn't picked this piece up yet.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2013

Hiding in plain sight is not such a great strategy in hindsight.
posted by vidur at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2013

This link should bypass the paywall (worked for me).
posted by gertzedek at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2013

Turn off JavaScript in your browser and refresh...no paywall. This works on many paywall sites where the paywall is implemented with JavaScript.
posted by Xoc at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

That Foreign Policy article is a marvel of subtle mastery; caters perhaps a bit much to American exceptionally stupidism-- "we couldn't organize a two car funeral"-- of which I'm an adherent myself, really, but it leaves all its major conclusions to implication and would be very hard to quote succinctly as asserting the identity of Mughniyeh's killers or even their affiliations.
posted by jamjam at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crap, so sorry everyone. I didn't get a paywall on the FP link and didn't remember it was one of those sites. :(

tmotat, thanks. The FP article refers to him as "the most dangerous man you never heard of," and I don't know if MeFi mentions are a reasonable metric of that, but it took me by surprise to find out that Mughniyeh has only ever been mentioned on MeFi once, way, way back in 2001. When he was killed, no one posted about it. No one has ever even mentioned his name in a comment until today.

Yet look at the carnage he's purportedly responsible for. Wikipedia: "He is thought to have killed more United States citizens than any other militant before the 2001 US attacks, and the bombings and kidnappings he is alleged to have organized are credited with all but eliminating the US military presence in Lebanon in the 1980s." Unreal.
posted by zarq at 3:35 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, the article's answer is "Even now, no one really knows who killed him."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2013

Obama did it personally. It was right in the middle of the primary with Clinton. Michelle and the kids had hidden his cigarettes. He was just so worked up. Said he needed a mission, so they have him one. Hadn't been active in 20 years, but I guess it was like riding a bicycle. In and out like a ghost I heard. After that the last few years have been cake.
posted by humanfont at 5:16 PM on April 30, 2013

Anyone else uncomfortable with the FPP casually calling Mughniyeh a 'terrorist'?

I think applying the term to him is debatable. He mainly seems to have been involved in things like blowing up the military barracks of occupying armies, and the US embassy (which is a state target). As far as I know, the attacks in Buenos Aires on the Jewish community center have no real link to Hezbollah, let alone Mughniyeh; that's the only one of these attacks I would really consider terrorism, since it targeted civilians in order to change their political attitudes.

Attacking the US and French armies, and kidnapping American spies, and blowing up the US embassy when it was being used to run the country's occupation are all lamentable events from a certain point of view, but they are not terrorism.

I am by no means convinced that he was NOT a terrorist, but I certainly think it's a poor overall label. I would call him a militant. And probably one the world is better off without.

I guess for me, the word terrorist has just been so overused in the last decade or so that I basically never use it myself, except sarcastically.
posted by jackbrown at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I didn't get a paywall on the FP link and didn't remember it was one of those sites

I have an FP account because they actually do print stuff like this - researched, interesting, timely. It's actually worth signing up for free.
Also they have Tom Ricks.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:37 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Before he died, he was listed on the "Most Wanted Terrorists" list of both the United States and the European Union, and was on the "Wanted" lists of 42 countries. He was also implicated in the hijacking of TWA flight 847. Plus he was a senior member (some say a founding member) of Hezbollah, a known terrorist organization. He was alternatively described as the head of its security section or a senior Hezbollah intelligence official.

That's why I called him a terrorist.
posted by zarq at 6:40 PM on April 30, 2013

Yeah, I dunno, unless you're going to say that the entire Wikipedia entry is false, this guy was basically the definition of a terrorist. Everything I've read says he's connected to the Buenos Aries bombings, for example.
posted by Mid at 6:59 PM on April 30, 2013

I'm actually uncomfortable with NOT calling him a terrorist.

Hijacking civilian planes (then murdering a passenger and throwing his body out of the plane), torturing and murdering non-combatants, bombing of embassies (including in 3rd party countries), bombing a synagog full of innocent civilians of a non-combatant country, heck, a country not even in the same hemisphere as his supposed conflict.

Or how about the videotaping the torturing to death of Lt. Col. Higgins (serving as a UN Peacekeeper), sending the tape to the US government, and leaving his body in a garbage bag on the road?

I'd love to hear what would qualify for the definition of terrorist if these actions don't.
posted by C.A.S. at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

By the way, JackBrown, Embassies are not "state targets", and attacking an embassy is an act of war that violates international law, and in no way is considered a genuine act of conflict and not terrorism.

Read the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. I don't know how you would get to conclude that an embassy is ever a legitimate target ever.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:10 AM on May 2, 2013

I guess you could say he was a terrorist in more of a pre-9/11 way: less focus on indiscriminate killing of Western civilians and more "targeted" acts of violence, primarily against people connected to Western governments and, of course, Jews. Still, though.

I love the idea that the Syrians looked the other way while the Israelis did it.
posted by Mid at 6:54 AM on May 2, 2013

Or the Syrians did it to meet the conditions for a warmer relationship with Israel, which is the suggestion in the FP article
posted by C.A.S. at 7:41 AM on May 2, 2013

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