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CIA, Mossad Op in Syria

Imad Mughniyah
John Testrake
John Testrake
Capt. John L. Testrake, the T.W.A. pilot whose display of calm, quiet courage made him an international hero during a 17-day hijacking ordeal between Beirut and Algiers in 1985. Cowardly hijacker Imad Mughniyah is seen in the background. Testrake passed away from cancer in 1996 and Mughniyahwas killed by a car bomb in Syria in 2008. | Photo: Archives | John Testrake, Imad Mughniyah, Hijack, Terrorist, Cancer, Gin, Airline, Hezbollah,

US officials blow the whistle on secret mission

Five former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post that the Central Intelligence Agency had Imad Mughniyah under surveillance for one year minimum before targeting and executing a kill in cooperation with the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service, Mossad.

The teams monitored Mughniyah's daily routine in preparation for the operation, which is not at all uncommon. After prepared, the attack was covertly executed by CIA and Mossad. This data was released last week by official sources, and formally reported on by The Washington Post.

According to their report, Israel initially approached the CIA about the joint operation, and President George W. Bush is who authorized the operation after approval from the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Adviser, and the Justice Department.

The official legality of US assassinations states:

The bomb was tested more than 25 times at Harvey Point Defense Testing Base in North Carolina. Then, the device was provided to the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service with the intent of planting it in a spare tire of Mughniyah's car.

"The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute," a former U.S. official said.

After the operation, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema defined the car bombing an act of terror. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah blamed the assassination on Israel. The Syrian government investigated the attack did not identify a suspect. They did however, determined Mughniyah was killed by a car bomb and that it was remotely detonated.

This is precisely what the five U.S. officials are stating as the events that took place. The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service in communication with CIA operatives on the ground. Some also stated that facial recognition technology was used to identify Mughniyah as he exited the restaurant just prior to the bomb being detonated.

Following the operation, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued this statement:

"Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident. We have nothing further to add."

Meanwhile, many Israeli officials celebrated the report of Mughniyah's demise.

Acting U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, suggested the Syrian government, or perhaps internal Hezbollah factions, were responsible for the assassination. He also stated that U.S. intelligence agencies were investigating his 'conspiracy theory.'

"There's some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria. We don't know yet, and we're trying to sort that out." - Mike McConnell

For decades, U.S. officials accused Imad Mughniyah of masterminding several attacks, most notably the bombing of the 1983 U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed several CIA agents, though no formal evidence of his role has been released.

John Testrake
John Testrake

Capt. John L. Testrake joined the Navy right after high school at the end of World War II and and later served as a flight engineer in the Korean War. The TWA pilot whose courage made him an international hero during a 17-day hijacking ordeal also gained the Republican nomination for a House seat in 1992. John passed away February 6, 1996. | Photo: The Washngton Post | Link |
John Testrake, 68, T.W.A. Pilot Who Became Hero in Hijacking
Hi wife, Phyllis was waiting for him on June 14, 1985, when he took off from Athens for what should have been a short hop to Rome.

Instead, within 20 minutes after the Boeing 727 designated Flight 847 took off with 150 passengers and crew members, a band of terrorists armed with pistols and grenades commandeered the plane and threatened to blow it up if Israel did not release Arab prisoners held in southern Lebanon.

The hijacking began a peripatetic 17-day ordeal of casual torture and gratuitous brutality during which many passengers and crew members were severely beaten, an American Navy man was killed and the original hijackers were replaced on the plane by two separate radical bands. By the time the last passengers were released with Captain Testrake, he had been forced to make two round trips between Beirut and Algiers, landing at Beirut three times.

Through it all, Captain Testrake was as an island of calm. Read on...

Reporting Harvard / Andrew Exum from February 13th, 2008
Imad Mughniyah is dead, killed in Damascus by a car bomb at the age of 45. Mughniyah was believed to have been Hezbollah's chief of military operations, and his assassination marks the first time a major figure in the movement has been killed since secretary-general Abbas Musawi in 1992'an assassination which brought the current secretary-general, Hasan Nasrallah, to power.

For many, Mughniyah was a reviled figure, wanted by both Israel and the United States for his alleged role in numerous attacks on American and Israeli targets-including the truck-bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992. (Formally, the FBI most-wanted him for his role in the 1985 hijacking of an American airliner to Beirut and the murder of a U.S. Navy diver on board.) For researchers such as myself, Mughniyah was of great interest because he represented a constant figure in Hezbollah throughout its evolution from an Iranian-backed Lebanese militia in the 1980s to a nationalist insurgent group in the 1990s and finally to its current incarnation as the most powerful political party in Lebanon-both in terms of weapons and popular support.

The timing of the assassination, from the perspective of Lebanese of all political stripes, could not have been worse. Tomorrow, after all, is the anniversary of the assassination of a great figure on the other side of Lebanon's current political divide, former prime minister Rafik Hariri. One hopes that calm heads will prevail and that any ostentatious rallies in Hariri's honor are postponed. At last year's mass rally, ugly sectarian chants broke out, and surely given Beirut's current tension, such chants could easily devolve into open violence.

This past week, Lebanon's leaders once again irresponsibly postponed the election of a new president. So the assassination of Imad Mughniyah has taken place within a political environment that is, still, on a razor's edge. If this year's assassination and the memory of another lead Lebanon down a short path to civil war, Lebanon's sectarian leaders will have only themselves to blame.'

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 5:31 AM EDT | More details

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