• Eyal Pinko

The Story of Imad Mourniyeh

The chubby man walked lonely through the dark streets, so familiar to him. He wrapped his coat to protect his body from the cold wind of February. Through the closed windows in the narrow alleys, he heard children's voices, a couple arguing loudly, and voices of a couple making love, so at least he imagined.

Quietly he remembered his wife and child, waiting for him at home, very far from where he was. He was smug and proud, and he had every reason to. A few minutes ago, a ceremony ended at the school he attended, where he was the guest of honor. He felt a sense of security with his loneliness in the foreign city, which was familiar to him. The quiet night only fostered his sense of security and peace. He did not need anyone there.

He smiled to himself. And just before he got to his car, he stopped for a split minute, looked around, checked that there was no one there, that no one was following him, making sure he was alone on the quiet street.

He got inside the car, sat down on his seat, turned the key.

BOOM!

A huge noise shooked the peaceful neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus. The car exploded and went up in flames, with the remains of the man's body.

This week in 2008, 14 years ago, Imad Mourniyeh was assassinated. Mourniyeh, Hezbollah's deputy secretary-general, was considered the chief of staff. He was Nasrallah's right-hand man and a loyal partner of former Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani, that was also assassinated.



Imad Mourniyeh is considered the mastermind, the architect of Hezbollah's force building in the 1990s. Until his assassination, his identity and position as head of Hezbollah's military wing were kept secret for many years. Even Nasrallah's leader claimed in the 1990s that Mourniyeh 's name was unknown to him.

Mourniyeh, who was born in Lebanon in December 1962 in a small village near the city of Tzur, joined the Fatah training camps and hatred of the Fatah training camps in the 1970s as a teenager.

Mourniyeh was blindly loyal to the Iranian supreme leader, Khamenei, whom he knew personally. For him, Mourniyeh was a symbol and raw model for the violent struggle against Israel and the West.

He was brutal and violent and was the one who planned a series of murderous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. Including the IDF headquarters bombing in Tire in November 1982 (an attack in which 91 people were killed), the US Embassy terrorist attack in Beirut in April 1983, and the attacks on the US Marine and French military bases in October of that year.

At the same time, he conducted abductions of foreign nationals in Lebanon, which were used as a bargaining chip to release Shiite terrorists imprisoned in Western prisons, and as part of a campaign for military aid to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.

Mourniyeh's hand was long, and he formed personal ties and collaborations with Osama bin Laden, the leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and more. He was also responsible for terror attacks across the globe, such as the suicide bombing at the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community building in Argentina (1992), an attack in which 85 people were killed.

The attacks in Argentina came in response to the assassination of Mossawa, then Hezbollah's secretary-general, drew global reactions. However, Iran and Hezbollah used it to signal to Israel and the United States that actions to assassinate Hezbollah leaders would not be conducted in silence.

Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 was a springboard for Mourniyeh, who was considered by the local population as the "liberator of the south." From 2000 until the Second Lebanon War, Mourniyeh and his partner Suleimani worked hard to build Hezbollah's power and capabilities.

During these years, they established special units, such as the 200th Intelligence Unit and the Naval Unit; they developed combat doctrines and infrastructure and delivered Iranian and Chinese advanced weapons and ammunition to the Hezbollah units, including long-range rockets and cruise missiles, such as the C-802 missile.

Hezbollah's achievements in the summer of 2006 further raised Mourniyeh's funds in Hezbollah and Iran. At the end of the war, he engaged with Suleimani in debriefing and drawing lessons. Their conclusions gave rise to the intensification of the naval unit, the special units, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and the flagship project - improving the missiles' accuracy. A project came out of an understanding of the vulnerability of the Israeli home front and that Israel will not be able to endure continuous damage to the home front over time. Such an attack, the two understood, would subdue Israel. Thus, an infrastructure was established to convert Hezbollah's rocket arsenal into accurate and lethal missiles.

And as intelligence agencies around the world monitor his actions, Mourniyeh has become one of the most wanted terrorists, even though none of the intelligence agencies have taken responsibility for the assassination.

His assassination left Hezbollah and Iran in shock, who for some years had difficulty finding a worthy and proper replacement for Mourniyeh. Nevertheless, he remains to this day a symbol of heroism and sacrifice in Iran and Lebanon, and in his grave in Lebanon is a center of pilgrimage.

Its elimination delayed the power-building processes and shook the organization, but not for long. Hezbollah today is a seven-fight organization with extensive operational experience, organized, and properly equipped. The terror organization is active in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and spread across the globe. Additionally, Hezbollah operates a huge drug cartel in South America, allowing it to fund its activities and accumulate additional power.

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