The assassination of Imad Mugniyah in Damascus yesterday serves as a potent reminder of Syria’s continuing role in the war against the United States. Max Boot has more on Syria’s current activities here.
Mugniyah was suspected of responsibility for acts of war against the United States including the devastating 1983 embassy bombing in Beirut, the horrifying bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the kidnapping, torture, and murder of CIA officer William Buckley, and the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 as well as the torture/murder of Robert Stethem. In See No Evil, former CIA operative Robert Baer reminds us that the CIA’s information on Mugniyah was “good enough for the Department of Justice to indict Mughniyah and three accomplices for the [TWA Flight 847] hijacking.”
Mugniyah’s role in the torture/murder of Buckley and the CIA offices murdered in the Beirut embassy bombing give special interest to the comments of Baer’s boss, former CIA counterterrorism chief Duane Clarridge. The New York Sun tracked down Clarridge yesterday for comment on Mugniyah’s assassination:
The founder of the counterterrorism center the Central Intelligence Agency created in 1985 in part to find and capture Mugniyah, Duane Clarridge, said in an interview, “My view is this is long overdue. He was a psychopath. I was close to people who died at his hands in the Beirut Embassy bombing.”
One such person was William Buckley, the CIA station chief who was kidnapped, tortured, and eventually murdered in 1984. Mr. Clarridge today said Mugniyah’s role in murdering Buckley and the reports that Buckley was tortured and forced to eat rat poison made it personal for many CIA officers assigned to finding him.
Mr. Clarridge said he was impressed with the tradecraft of whoever pulled off the assassination yesterday. “What really flabbergasted me, is that this happened in Damascus. The bomb was in his car. That shows a level of access and intelligence that is rather superb,” he said.
What does the provision of sanctuary to Mugniyah say about the Syrian regime? Someone who does this for a living might want to ask Barack Obama, whose senior foreign policy advisor — the execrable Zbigniew Brzezinski — is on his way to Damascus to meet with “some high-level people in the region.” Eli Lake broke the story of Brzezinski’s obeisance to the Assad regime in yestereday’s New York Sun. As of this morning, the story otherwise remains a deep secret.
UPDATE: Noah Pollak observes that “there is one place where Zbig’s visit to Syria is not being treated with a media blackout, and that is Syria.” Pollak writes:
The press there reported that Zbig told Asssad that he believes the U.S. and Syria have a “shared interest in stability in the region.” It’s amazing that this isn’t being reported here in the U.S.