February 14th, 2008 03:46 EST
'Not us.' Israel claims no role in death of Imad Mughniyeh
By Jim Teeple
Officials in Israel say they are not responsible for the bombing that killed Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah leader involved in terrorist attacks against Israel and the West for three decades. VOA`s Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem, Israeli officials say Mughniyeh was responsible for some of the worst attacks ever carried out against Israel and Jews around the world.
Israeli officials are rejecting any attempt to link Israel to the bombing that killed Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, but it is safe to say that they feel that his death was long overdue.
Mughniyeh had haunted Israeli officials for three decades, ever since he was a teenage sniper in Beirut working for Yasser Arafat`s Force 17 militia. Two years ago he reportedly masterminded the abduction of two Israeli soldiers from Israel`s northern border - an incident that led to the second Lebanon War.
Moshe Marzuk the former head of Lebanon intelligence for the Israeli Defense Forces says Israel considered Mughniyeh to be even more dangerous than Hezbollah`s leader Hassan Nasrallah.
"He was very dangerous because he was the same level as (Hezbollah leader) Hassan Nasrallah or even more," Marzuk said. "Because he was involved in any direct military attacks against Israel. He brought the Iranian policy behind these attacks with all his hatred against Israel."
Marzuk says Israeli intelligence officials always went on alert when they heard Imad Mughniyeh was in southern Lebanon because it usually meant an attack was imminent. Israeli officials say Mughniyeh attacked Israeli interests and Jews around the world - saying he was responsible for the 1992 bombings of the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish Cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed more than 100 people.
As to who killed Imad Mughniyeh? Moshe Marzuk says he was a man with many enemies."Maybe it can be another side, not exactly Israel," Marzuk said. "Because Imad Mughniyeh has other enemies, not only Israel, of course the Americans and maybe Syria also. And maybe elements in Iraq, because we know that in the last few years Mughniyeh was also acting in Iraq. He was behind the training of the Mahdi army, the Shia army in Iraq, and behind many terrorist acts in Iraq against Americans there, and he connected to Iran there."
Moshe Marzuk says whoever killed Imad Mughniyeh, his death is unlikely to lead to a direct Hezbollah attack on Israel from Lebanon. Marzuk says while Hezbollah will probably try and attack Israel, one of the lessons Imad Mughniyeh taught Hezbollah is that Israel can be attacked from anywhere in the world.