Wikileaks Global Intelligence Files: Israel Day 17, The Assassination of Hezbollah’s Security Chief
Since February 27, 2012, WikiLeaks has continued releasing what it says will eventually be 5 million e-mails sent between July 2004 and late December 2011 from the private intelligence company Stratfor. The emails were obtained from a series of hacking attacks against Stratfor in December 2011, carried out by the online activist collective Anonymous.
An email dated March 25, 2008, refers to a source described as a Syrian businessman who has business dealings with Rami Makhluf, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s maternal cousin. The source has a reliability rating of C and a credibility rating of 3 [average Stratfor ranking].
This email lists the following claims made by the source:
“…Syrian president Bashar Asad has ordered his brother-in-law general Asef Shawkat to step down as the chief investigator in the assassination of Imad Muhniyye [senior Hizbullah leader]. Bashar’s maternal cousin Rami Makhluf … has replaced Shawkat as the Mughniyye assassinmation investigator chief despite his modest credentials.”
“… Hizbullah has protested to Asad against the appointment of Makhluf as the investigator. Hizbullah accuses Shawkat of having a key role in Mughniyye’s assassination and demanded interrogating him as a primary suspect.”
“…Syrian investigations have already revealed involvement by a Syrian army officer in Mughniyye’s assassination. The officer collected detailed intelligence about Mughniyye’s movements while in Syria and in the Biqaa vallye, during former’s tenure in the central Biqaa as an intelligence officer during the 1990s. The officer discussed security matters with Mughniyye during two major Israeli military operations in Lebanon …”
According to the source the assassination of Imad Mugniyah “has soured relations between Hizbullah and Syria”. Syria is reportedly embarrassed and reluctant to provide information about the assassination because some Syrians were involved in the assassination plot.
The source mentioned that “Hizbullah has made up its mind on putting all the blame on Israel” but will not be attacking Israeli targets at the moment mainly due to the political crisis in Lebanon
Another email dated March 7, 2008, refers to a source described as a “Source in Lebanon”. The source has a reliability rating of B and a credibility rating of 3 [second highest and average Stratfor ranking respectively].
According to the source, “Syria is very upset with Hizbullah’s chief Hasan Nasrallah because, during his eulogy of Imad Mughniyye, he limited his accusation to Israel” and did not criticize the CIA. Syrian president Bashar Asad reportedly felt by only criticizing Israel, Syria-Israel peace talks over the Golan Heights were jeopardized. The source mentioned that it was more acceptable for Syria to give the impression that its intelligence service was penetrated by the CIA rather than the Mossad.
An email dated March 14, 2008, refers to a source described as a “Fatah military source”. The source has a reliability rating of B and a credibility rating of 3 [second highest and average Stratfor ranking respectively].
The email states that Iran and Syria have clearly told Hizbullah “not to avenge the assassination” of Imad Mughniyye in Damascus. Both countries are reportedly concerned that such retaliation could lead to massive Israeli reprisals against Syria and Iran.
This email also makes the following statement, “Hizbullah’s retaliation for Mughniyye’s assassination was via the Islamic Jihad who launched the attack against the seminary in West Jerusalem that killed eight Israeli religious students.”
The email states that Syria does not want to release information about “the Mughniyye assassination investigation because they are waiting for the outcome of” an Arab summit in Damascus and also because they want to deny any involvement in the assassination. If the summit is not a success, Syria is expected to accuse “Saudi Arabian intelligence for playing a role in assassinating Mughniyye.” This email also makes the following statement; “So far, all suspects, believed to be four, have been Palestinians from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”
A separate email dated February 18, 2008, also refers to the assassination of Imad Mugniyah. Hizbullah reportedly distrusts the Syrians. The email states that Syria will blame the Lebanese government for the assasination.
Imad Mugniyah and other Hizbullah officials are allegedly escorted by Syrian intelligence vehicles inside Syria and when they “travel to Iran via Damascus, they board private jets
with Iranian markings.”
This email also states that senior Hizbullah officials have temporarily stopped travel to Syria and increased their security arrangements in Lebanon.
This email contained the following statement, “…Hizbullah will seek soft targets. They are most likely to find Israeli targets in the Far East or South America. They will avoid targets in Europe. They may hit American targets in Jordan.”
Another email dated March 7, 2008, refers to a source described as a “Source in Hezbollah”. The source has a reliability rating of B and a credibility rating of 3 [second highest and average Stratfor ranking respectively].
According to the source, Syrian intelligence is spreading rumors that Nasrallah [Hezbollah leader] ordered Mughnyah’s assassination because of a power struggle. The source denies these rumors.
The source mentioned that Hezbollah has refused to allow three of its top officials to be interrogated by Syria. Syrian intelligence allegedly interrogated “four Palestinian security officers, three of whom are from the PFLP-GC [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command].”
This email also contained the following statement: “The Syrians are spreading rumors that the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] is very angry with Hasan Nasrallah and his cliche in Hizbullah for their failures during the 2006 summer war. In particular, the Iranians are dismayed with the failure of Hizbullah gunners to inflict significant casualties as a result of firing more than 4000 rockets against Israel. Hizbullah handling of the Iranian provided missiles has caused Israel to lose respect for Iran’s arsenal of missiles. The firing of the missiles was more like fireworks than instruments of death.”
A separate email dated February 13, 2008, states “the assassination of Mughniyye has an unmistakable Ehud Barak’s hallmark” who “…is known for this style of high concept assassinations.” It also listed the following claim: “The Israelis have many Druze ‘eyes’ in Syria… The Israelis have perfected their espionage networks in Syria many years ago.”
According to the source, the Mughniyeh assassination was carried out by the Mossad and the United States knew about it. The assassination was described as “…a very elegant attack. As the footage showed, the car was still very much intact, controlled explosion fitted in the head rest.”
The source mentioned that more than 3 Mossad agents were involved in the operation but they were all unlikely to have been in Syria at the same time. The source claimed Hezbollah will be planning a retaliatory attack overseas, similar to the Buenos Aires attack and added that in the Buenos Aires attack “the Iranians succeeded in bribing the Argentinian security
officials and investigation team.”
The source stated that Ashkenazi [former IDF Chief of Staff] had done a “phenomenal job” preparing Israel militarily for another war. The source also added that Meir Dagan [former Director of the Mossad] “totally transformed Mossad” and that the “…Mughniyeh hit was his baby.”
Israel reportedly does not want another war with Hezbollah right now, is averse to military casualties and is focusing on “covert ops.” The email concluded that “the Dimona bombing [Palestinian suicide bombing in 2008] came from Hebron; ironically, Israeli peace activists succeeded in stopping the wall building at the spot where the bomber got through.”