The spy agencies of US and Israel were behind the terrorist bombing which killed top Hezbollah commander Hajj Imad Mughniyeh in a 2008 car bomb attack in Syria, the Washington Post reported Friday.
Citing former intelligence officials, the newspaper reported that the CIA and Mossad worked together to target Mughniyeh on February 12, 2008 as he was allegedly leaving a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He was martyred instantly by a car bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of a parked car, which exploded shrapnel in a tight radius, the Post said.
According to the daily, the bomb which was built by the United States and tested in the state of North Carolina, was triggered remotely by Mossad agents in Tel Aviv who were in communication with Central Intelligence Agency operatives on the ground in Damascus.
“The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.
The CIA declined to comment to the Post about the report.
According the newspaper, the authority to kill required a presidential finding by George W Bush. Several senior officials, including the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and the national security advisor, would have had to sign off on the order, it added.
The former officials that spoke to the newspaper said Mughniyeh was a real threat to the US administration.
“What we had to show was he was a continuing threat to Americans,” the official told the Post.
The newspaper said that during the Iraq war, the Bush administration had approved a list of operations aimed at Hezbollah, and according to one official, this included approval to target Mughniyeh.
“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyeh and anybody affiliated with him,” a former US official who served in Baghdad told the Post.
According to the newspaper, American intelligence officials had been discussing possible ways to target Hezbollah commander for years, and senior US Joint Special Operations Command agents held a secret meeting with the head of Israel’s military intelligence service in 2002.
“When we said we would be willing to explore opportunities to target him, they practically fell out of their chairs,” a former US official told Washington Post.