It is quite possible that terror master Imad Mughniyeh was not killed Tuesday night in Damascus for his past crimes, but to prevent him from carrying out additional attacks in the future.
On January 30, French security services raided a Paris apartment and arrested six Arab men. Three of the men - two Lebanese and one Syrian - were travelling on diplomatic passports. According to the Italian Libero newspaper, the six were members of a Hizbullah cell. Documents seized included tourist maps of Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin and Rome marked up with red highlighter to indicate routes, addresses, parking lots and "truck stopping points." The maps pointed to several routes to Vatican back entrances.
Libero's report explained that the "truck stopping points" aligned with information the French had received the week before from Beirut. There, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah had convened a conference of his senior terror leaders where he ordered them to activate Hizbullah cells throughout Europe to kidnap senior European leaders.
The day of the arrests, French Defense Minister Herve Morin was meeting with his American counterpart, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on a previously unannounced visit. During his public appearances, Morin criticized the US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program from November. Morin said, "Coordinated information from a number of intelligence services leads us to believe that Iran has not given up its wish to pursue its [nuclear] program," and is "continuing to develop" it.
Other recent reports relayed French concern that their embassy in Beirut is being targeted for attack by Hizbullah. On January 15 terrorists attacked a US Embassy car in Beirut, killing four and wounding 16. This week, French President Nicholas Sarkozy's chief of staff told L'Express newsweekly that the threat of terror against France "remains quite high."
All of the feared terror attacks against French and European targets have the classic earmarkings of Hizbullah operations chief and Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh was the pioneer of embassy bombings and high-profile kidnappings.
Most of the reports of his death treated Mughniyeh as a has-been. Coverage was devoted to his attacks against American, Israeli and Jewish targets in the 1980s and early 1990s. Yet at the time of his death, Mughniyeh remained one of the most dangerous and prolific terror operatives in the world.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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