Dan Raviv writes: In true-life espionage stories that inadvertently go public, there are often three stages: the initial revelation, the corrective second version from other sources, and – decades later – what really happened.
Newsweek and The Washington Post scored scoops last month, revealing that the CIA worked jointly with Israel’s Mossad to assassinate a Lebanese terrorist in February 2008 in Damascus: the military chief of the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah movement, Imad Mughniyeh.
The bomb explosion that killed Mughniyeh – who was held responsible for killing hundreds of Americans, notably in Beirut explosions that toppled the U.S. Embassy and a Marines barracks – was triggered from 135 miles away when a button was pushed in Mossad headquarters. A CIA man was inside the HQ near Tel Aviv.
This was a unique arrangement in which CIA and Mossad officers coordinated their undercover efforts in Syria’s capital, located the target, identified his habits, and parked a vehicle containing a bomb just outside an apartment he used.
According to the published accounts, the bomb had been designed, shaped, and repeatedly tested at an American base to be sure that only Mughniyeh and no other people would be killed.
Because of the revelation that the CIA was part of the mission, as well as details of how it was accomplished, Israelis close to their country’s security services wondered why American sources chose to leak so much about it.
One result was that some of those Israelis – apparently miffed that the Americans were taking too much credit – went to the trouble of speaking with Western officials and diplomats to offer corrections.
Basically, using a phrase inspired by the blue-and-white flag of Israel, they suggested that the assassination of Mughniyeh was “almost all blue-and-white, and just a little bit red-white-and-blue.”
Based on what they told their Western contacts this month, the Israelis claim that their Mossad and Aman (military intelligence) agencies managed to pick up the trail of the elusive terrorist – despite plastic surgery that changed his appearance. His biggest mistake was moving around Damascus without bodyguards, and specifically an unguarded area in front of his apartment building in the Syrian capital.
Contrary to the recent reports, the Israelis claim to have designed and tested the bomb, while respecting the CIA’s insistence that it not be too large so as not to kill any innocents. [Continue reading…]