One witness, who declined to give her name, said the explosion occurred about 10:15 p.m. and blew parts of the car into her apartment. Her husband said the blast hurled Mughniyah’s body into the building entrance about 15 feet away, severing his arms and legs. He was dead by the time rescue workers arrived, she said. Other residents told her that the bomb detonated as Mughniyah opened the car after visiting Iranians who live on the building’s second floor. “We hadn’t seen him here before,” she said.
And now share my sorrow. As a microcosm of pre-9/11 western approaches to terror, it’s hard to beat this:
Lebanese officials, exploiting a monitored telephone call, traced Mughniyah to Paris in 1985, only five months after the hijacking of a TWA jetliner, to which he had been linked. He was staying at the Hotel de Crillon, a luxurious hotel across the street from the U.S. Embassy. Tipped off by the Lebanese, U.S. officials asked French police to arrest him and turn him over. Instead, as previously reported in The Washington Post, French agents met with him several times over a six-day period, according to a source closely involved, and worked out an agreement to release him in return for the freedom of a French hostage.
Who finally got him? Read the cryptic anecdote at the beginning here and draw your own conclusions. It’s in everyone’s interest to blame Mossad, Israel’s included since it restores the agency’s fearsomeness in one fell swoop. If they did do it, it was obviously by flipping someone very, very trusted: “Steinberg says whoever killed Mughniyeh not only found him in the upscale Kfar Sousse neighborhood but booby-trapped his Mitsubishi Pajero from under his security’s nose. He figures it was an inside job, which should cause Hezbollah and Iran to worry about infiltration at the highest levels.” Indeed. Spend a minute on Meir Javedanfar’s piece at Pajamas for a quickie recap of western intelligence coups against Iran over the past year. The upshot:
The assassination of Mughniyeh is likely to lead to a major restructuring of Iran’s intelligence operations abroad, and even at home. Mughniyeh was a man who traveled frequently between Tehran and Damascus. Therefore it is very possible that his assassins were tracking his movements inside Iran as well. The worst case scenario for Tehran would be if he was compromised by someone inside Iran, a scenario which Iran’s intelligence agency, known by its Farsi acronym as VAVAK, would quite likely be looking into.
Fearing infiltrations elsewhere, it is also possible that Iran’s nuclear program, especially its nuclear scientists, may be forced to go even deeper underground due to the apparent progress in Western efforts to find valuable Iranian targets.