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THE UNKNOWN KING OF TERROR and the Coming Lebanon Civil War

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Last week, we discussed how there could be a light at the end of the terrorist tunnel. Now let’s talk about how that light could be an oncoming train.

One of the most famous quotes of America’s favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra, is: “It’s never over until it’s over.” We’ve all been swept away with democracy seeming to march ineluctably forward in the Middle East, thrilled by the sea of red and white Lebanese flags waved in Beirut’s Martyr’s Square, and confidant that the Cedar Revolution will be victorious over Syrian imperialism. We need to pause now, take a deep breath, and heed Yogi’s words.

I have a very bad feeling about Lebanon that this could turn out really ugly. Dispatch after dispatch, story after story, and all you read about is Syria’s getting its troops and spies out of its colony. Congressmen like Darryl Issa (R-CA) write newspaper op-eds entitled “Lebanon: Democracy’s Next Stop.” All without a word about Hezbollah. All without a word about Iran.

Hezbollah made the papers finally this week, when it staged a pro-Syria rally in Beirut that dwarfed in numbers the size of the Cedar Revolution’s. The size was fake but the threat was not. There are upwards of half a million Syrian workers together with many thousands of Syrian intelligence agents. Hezbollah’s rally was substantially composed of those Syrians, rather than native Lebanese. Nonetheless, the threat is very real, for Hezbollah has guns, and the Cedar Revolution democracy advocates do not.

Hezbollah – the Party of God – is a group of 25,000 Shiite terrorists armed to the teeth, and nobody is asking the most important question of all regarding Lebanon’s fate: who gets to take away Hezbollah’s guns? You simply cannot have a private terrorist army running around Lebanon and expect to create a peaceful democracy, even if every Syrian soldier and secret policeman leaves for Damascus.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. I almost entitled this essay: What has Syria got to do with Lebanon?. Syria is a sideshow. It wasn’t when Hafez al-Assad was running the place, but his son Bashar is a chinless weakling who has kept his father’s dictatorship going through the support of the real terrorist power in the Middle East: Iran.

Bashar al-Assad is a puppet of the Mullacracy in Tehran. The people who give the orders to the Syrian troops in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley are Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 among Lebanon’s Shia Moslems with money and weapons from Iran. It is run by the world’s worst terrorist, who is most decidedly not Osama Bin Laden.

Osama is a Hollywood terrorist. He’s got the memorably euphonious name, the looks of the classic bearded/turbaned Moslem crazy, and staged the most horrifically Hollywood disaster movie attack imaginable. He makes the perfect Hollywood arch-villain. But he too has become a sideshow, a distraction. The most important and dangerous terrorist in the world is a man most everybody has never heard of. His name is Imad Mugniyeh. He is the true King of Terror.

Here is what he looks like:

Pretty ordinary, right? This is one of the few pictures ever taken of him. Bin Laden thrives on publicity. Mugniyeh shuns it. Here is a compendium of his terrorist highlights, all performed as Hezbollah’s chief of military operations:

*Organized the April 18, 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including Robert Ames, the CIA’s top Middle East operations officer, and many of his best agents.

*Organized the October 23, 1983 twin suicide truck-bomb attacks on the Marine Barracks in Beirut that took the lives of 242 U.S. Marines and 58 French troops.

*Kidnapped dozens of Americans and French in Lebanon in the 1980s. In April 1984, kidnapped CIA station chief in Beirut William Buckley, personally torturing him to a horrible death.

*Conducted the June 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Beirut, where he held 39 Americans hostage for 17 days. Wearing a ski mask, Mugniyeh prowled the aisles of the aircraft looking for U.S. military personnel and discovered U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. He tortured and shot Stethem, then dumped his body out on the runway in full view of international TV cameras. Later, the FBI was able to identify Mugniyeh’s fingerprints in the rear lavatory of the aircraft and indicted him for Stethem’s murder.

* Organized the March 17, 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 29 persons and wounding 242.

* Organized in 1996 an attempt to blow up an El Al jetliner in mid-air. The suicide bomber, Hussein Mohammad Mikdad, blew off the lower half of his body preparing the bomb in an East Jerusalem hotel room. Interrogated in the hospital, Mikdad fingered Mugniyeh.

* Organized a joint Hezbollah-Al Qaeda operation, the June 25, 1996 suicide truck-bombing of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 372.

* Organized a joint Hezbollah-Al Qaeda operation, the August 7, 1998 simultaneous bombing of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, resulting in 224 killed including 12 Americans, and over 5,000 wounded.

* Organized a joint Hezbollah-Al Qaeda operation, the October 12, 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 US Navy sailors and wounding 39.

All of these terrorist operations of Mugniyeh’s were paid for by Iran. Mugniyeh first met Osama Bin Laden in Khartoum in June 1994. The meeting was arranged by Iranian intelligence. Whether or not Mugniyeh helped Bin Laden plan and carry out the Attack of September 11 is unclear. What is clear is that Mugniyeh and Hezbollah are cooperating hand-in-glove with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda in conducting the terrorist “insurgency” in Iraq.

Shuttling back and forth between Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, Mugniyeh is the principal director of terrorism in Iraq. He and his paymasters in Tehran will do anything to prevent losing his power base in the Bekaa Valley and the disarming of Hezbollah. So we come to the grim conclusion:

Imad Mugniyeh and the Hezbollah, at the direction of Iran, will ignite another civil war in Lebanon, destroying that country’s chances for democracy and freedom from Syrian colonial control – and halting thereby George Bush’s Middle East Freedom March right in its tracks.

The campaign of intimidation and death threats against the Cedar Revolution leaders has already begun. The pro-Syrian puppet government has been re-installed. Peaceful Ukraine-like demonstrations won’t do the trick now. The only option is military force against Hezbollah.

It sure can’t be by the Israelis. Hezbollah is widely admired in Lebanon, and especially by the Shia one-third of Lebanese (1.3 out of 3.9 million), for ending the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in May 2000.

It sure can’t be by the Lebanese military, riddled with Syrian agents and Hezbollah members.

And in any regard, by whose authority? Hezbollah has 12 seats in the Lebanese Parliament, the Speaker of which is a Shiite ally, Nabih Berri. It is quite unlikely that any collection of folks in power sufficient to authorize foreign military protection will do so – for if they did, Hezbollah would quickly kill them.

US covert operations seem incapable of stopping the Cedar Revolution’s impending doom. Perhaps a Delta Force decapitation of key Hezbollah leaders, including Mugniyeh, could work. But the King of Terror has escaped dozens of attempts to capture or kill him, and is better hidden and protected than ever.

Thus the solution is the same as it has always been regarding the War on Moslem Terror: Regime change in Iran. This is the main event. George Bush needs to look beyond the Syrian and Lebanese side shows and focus on terrorism’s fundamental source. Iran’s Mullacracy is funding and supporting Hezbollah, the terrorist movement in Iraq – as well as providing sanctuary for Osama Bin Laden (no – he’s not in some remote cave along the Afghan-Pak border, he’s in Iran, most likely in or around Mashad in the east).

GW’s bottom line has finally arrived. Either effect regime change in Iran by fomenting the Triple U (uncontrollable urban unrest) and a democratic revolution thereby. Or watch as a terrorist Hezbollah government is established in Lebanon and his dream of democracy in the Middle East vanishes like a desert mirage.

Oh, just one more thing. The reason Saddam’s WMD were never found is that Mugniyeh made a deal with Saddam to spirit them out of Iraq before the US invasion, truck them across the border into Syria, then into Hezbollah’s Bekaa Valley stronghold. It is the King of Terror who has Saddam Hussein’s missing weapons of mass destruction.