Thursday, February 14, 2008




At long last, nemesis overtook Imad Mughniyeh, the head of the covert action division of the Hezbollah, who was trained by the Iranianintelligence. At Damascus on February 12,2008,he died the way he had sent hundreds of innocent civilians---- Americans, Israelis, Frenchand many others--- to their cruel deaths---- through a car bomb.

2. Nobody knows who planted the car bomb that killed him. The Hezbollah and Iranian sources have blamed the Israeli intelligence. One willnever know, but whoever killed him has made a major contribution to the fight against terrorism. No tears need be shed over his death.There need be no qualms of conscience over the way he was killed, through the car bomb technique which he himself had developed in theLebanon in the early 1980s and used with devastating effect to kill hundreds of American and French soldiers stationed in the Lebanon.

3. Since the explosion in the New York World Trade Centre in February,1993, the world has been talking of what has come to be known asnew or catastrophic or mass casualty terrorism. Osama bin Laden has been projected as the father of this new terrorism. He is not. The realfather was the Iranian-trained Imad Mughniyeh. Many of the new mass-killing and mass-intimidating modus operandi being used by differentterrorist organisations all over the world--- the car bomb, the suicide bomber, attacks on mass transportation systems etc--- were born inthe head of Imad Mughniyeh. bin Laden hated the Hezbollah and Imad, but at the same time admired their ingenuity in devising ever newtechniques of mass casualty terrorism. He copied their techniques and imparted a greater lethality to them.

4.bin Laden was not the only one to emulate this diabolical killer of people in their hundreds. So did Prabakaran, the head of the LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). His techniques of the suicide bomber, the suicide car and the suicide boat were based on a study of the MOused by Imad. The deaths of hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka and of Rajiv Gandhi in India were the outcome of the ideas and techniqueswhich Prabakaran and the LTTE learnt by studying the terror strikes carried out by the Hezbollah under the guidance of Imad.

5.Imad, bin Laden and Prabakaran--- have one thing in common. Their readiness to send hundreds of misled young people to death assuicide terrorists, while saving themselves from death. But, death in the form of a car bomb ultimately caught up with Imad just as it willone day catch up with bin Laden and Prabakaran.

6. Nemesis strikes not only terrorists, but also intelligence agencies, which use terrorists for achieving strategic objectives.. That is whatPakistan has been learning for the last one year and that is what Syria has been learning. Imad was not the only terrorist leader to haveoperated from a sanctuary provided by Syria. So did Carlos, So did George Habash, who died recently. So did the leaders of the Red ArmyFaction of the then West Germany and Japan. So did many others. Iran was not the only country with which A.Q.Khan, Pakistan's nuclearscientist, was in touch. He was in touch with Syria too. In 2003, when the US-led troops invaded and occupied Iraq, I had reported about thesecret visit of A.Q.Khan to Syria. The alleged Israeli Air Force strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear facility last year was meant to convey amessage not only to Syria , but also to Iran. The message was: " If we want to, we can. Nobody can stop us."

7. The death of Imad would not be the end of the Hezbollah. Nor would it be the end of jihadi terrorism of the Iranian or the Pakistani or AlQaeda brand. It will be the beginning of a new phase of terrorism ----- particularly directed at Israeli targets all over the world. Hezbollh is notknown to have a presence in India, but that does not mean it would not try to attack Israeli targets in India if an opportunity presented itself.Both the Iranian intelligence and the Hezbollah have cause for anger against India because of the launching of an Israeli satellite by anIndian rocket. They may calculate that a terrorist strike against an Israeli target in Indian territory would convey an appropriate message toIsrael as well as India. (15-2-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )