Monthly Archives: February 2008

Hizbullah Terrorist Imad Mughniyeh Killed in Car Bombing



Wanted Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was killed Tuesday (02/12/08 ) in a car bombing in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Mughniyeh operated in Syria and Lebanon, and served as a top-level Hizbullah liason with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the al-Qods unit within the Iranian Pasdaran. The International Herald Tribune reports,

One of the world’s most wanted and elusive terrorists, the 45-year-old Mughniyeh was the suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, including 241 U.S. Marines, in Lebanon and the brutal kidnappings of Westerners in the 1980s.

He went underground in 1990s, reportedly undergoing plastic surgery, and was a mastermind behind with the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and an attack on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

Mughniyeh was wanted by half a dozen state intelligence agencies, including the FBI, early speculation in much of the Arab and Muslim world is Israel was responsible for the operation. However opinions of have been mixed. Predictably, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, appealed to the Muslim world to “rise up to confront the Zionist devil, which is backed by the Americans.” Yet Sheik Jaber Al Khaled Al Sabah of Kuwait welcomed the attack as an act of divine retribution. Mughniyeh was behind the hijacking of a Kuwait Airways flight in 1998 and the killing of two of its Kuwaiti passengers. “The killing of the criminal Imad Mughniyeh was divine vengeance for those who killed the sons of Kuwait and threw them from planes at Limasol Airport in Cyprus,” the minister said.

In light of the recent bombing of a suspected Syrian nuclear installation this recent operation would represent a significant representation of the reach of Israeli military power. Israeli government officials denied any involvement in the attack. Military officials would neither confirm nor deny the allegations. Hizbullah vows to retaliate against Israeli targets abroad while Israel is steadily boosting troop levels along the Lebanese border. Israel ordered all embassies and military personnel on alert status and suggested international Jewish organizations be on guard against any potential acts of violence.

This was a welcome blow to Hizbullah both for the amount of blood on Mughniyeh’s hands as well as the political impact on the Baathist regime in Damascus. If Israel is responsible for the attack, this is a clear signal: if Damascus continues to support Hezbollah, when the next war comes, prepare to get hit with overwhelming force.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Mugniyeh operated against the US and Israel from Lebanon, had a hand in operations directly against both and in third countries like Argentina, shuttled between Beirut, Damascus and Teheran, and was central to training Hamas on Iran’s behalf. This sort of networking puts the lie to the strangely persistent myth that Shi’ites and Sunnis don’t work together. Just as Shi’ite Iran and Hizbullah, through Mugniyeh, have no compunctions helping Sunni Hamas, there is no reason to believe that these same terror centers are disconnected from al-Qaida, just because it is a Sunni group. Furthermore, Mugniyeh died, having evidently felt particularly safe in, the Syrian capital, Damascus. This should serve as a reminder, in case any was needed, that Syria remains a terror state par excellence.

His death revives central questions in the battle against Islamist terror: What is happening with the endless UN investigation of Syrian assassinations in Lebanon, while Syria seems to keep adding to its hit list? What is happening with the Chapter 7 embargo against Hizbullah that Syria is rampantly violating. When will the UN Security Council take steps to enforce the weapons embargo imposed by Resolution 1701? Most importantly, when will UNIFIL be charged with helping the Lebanese government to prevent the weapons flow to Hizbullah across the Lebanon-Syria border?

The death of Mugniyeh should also refocus attention on the danger posed by his real masters in Teheran. Every time the world contemplates a nuclear Iran, it must also contemplate the possibility that Mugniyeh’s successors will be tasked with using that weapon in a way the bears no obvious fingerprints leading back to Iran, presents no clear address for retaliation, and therefore leaves the entire deterrence model in shambles.

Read more at The Contentious Centrist, Contentions, Counterterrorism Blog, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Small Wars Journal, The New York Sun, The Terror Wonk.

Collateral Damage and Counterinsurgency Doctrine


[H/t to Small Wars Journal]

Collateral Damage and Counterinsurgency Doctrine
by Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF

When America’s landpower services issued their new counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in December of 2006, the Pentagon rightly hailed it as “a real team effort of Army and Marine writers.” Although officially cast as simply doctrine for the two services, it was not long before Field Manual (FM) 3-24, (designated by the Marine Corps as Warfighting Publication 3-33.5) was being broadly touted in the media as “The Book” on Iraq.

Following the designation of one of FM 3-34’s principal architects, General David H. Petraeus, as the Commanding General of the Multinational Force, it actually became, in effect, the strategy not just for the ground component, but the whole joint force in Iraq. Reflecting the views of many, Senator John McCain calls it the “blueprint of U.S. efforts” to secure that troubled country for its citizens.

Download interim version of article as PDF

From the Jam at Gramercy Theater



My wife has liked The Jam for years so, as a surprise for her birthday, I purchased some tickets to see From The Jam (FTJ) at the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. FTJ is Bruce Foxton and Rick Butler from the original line up with the addition of David Moore and Russell Hastings). Not being a huge fan myself I was unaware that FTJ lacked a key member of the group, Paul Weller. Apparently Mr. Weller is not big on playing his “old tunes” these days. Nevertheless we went with open minds ready and willing to have a good time. We were not disappointed. FTJ rocked out song after song with all of their hits: In the City, Going Underground, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Modern World, Strange Town, Eton Rifles, and all the rest. It was a lot of fun.

[Down in the Tube Station at Midnight]

Archbishop of Canterbury Thinks Adoption of Sharia Law “Unavoidable”


In a recent interview with Radio 4’s World at One, the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed Sharia law is “unavoidable” in the U.K. Perhaps even more disturbing is the Archbishop’s notion of jurisprudence. Discarding any notion of universality in application of the law, the Archbishop stated, “An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger.” What’s dangerous and truly unjust is having a law apply to one group in a society and not apply to another. Indeed, the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that one of the qualities of an unjust law was selective application.

Read more at Martin in the Margins.

Slow days at The New Centrist


As you may have noticed, there has not been much posted at this blog lately. Other obligations–primarily teaching four history classes, writing and office hours–have been taking much more of my time than I expected. If at all possible I hope to start posting at least one item per week very, very soon.

Until then, please continue to visit.