Monday, April 24, 2006

Iran leader met top terrorist

From The Australian April 24, 2006 by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem ...

IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met one of the world's most notorious terrorists in Damascus earlier this year to discuss retaliatory attacks on Western targets in the event that Iran's nuclear sites were struck, according to intelligence experts.

A report yesterday in London's The Sunday Times said Mr Ahmadinejad, during an official visit to Syria in January, conferred with Lebanese-born Imad Mugniyeh -- commander of overseas operations for Hezbollah, the Iranian-affiliated Shia militia in Lebanon.

Mugniyeh is said to have been responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any living person prior to al-Qa'ida's attack on the US on September 11, 2001. His operatives bombed the US embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63 people. Six months later, he directed a suicide bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. He is also held responsible for the torture killing of a CIA station chief in Lebanon as well as the bombing of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in the 1990s...He would subsequently blow up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with car bombs.

The Sunday Times said US officials and Israeli intelligence sources believe that Mugniyeh, who is on the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list, has taken charge of plotting retaliatory attacks against the West in the event that US President George W.Bush orders a strike against Iran's nuclear sites.

During his Damascus visit, Mr Ahmadinejad reportedly met leaders of groups Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas....

...An Israeli defence source cited by the newspaper said that Mugniyeh met regularly with Iranian Intelligence Minister Ghkolamhossein Mohseni Ezhei, an appointee of Mr Ahmadinejad.
"Since we know from previous Iranian terror attacks that it takes about a year to plan a substantial one," the source said, "we should not be surprised if operations against Western targets are already in high gear. Mugniyeh is certainly playing a major role."

A former CIA official, Robert Baer, who hunted Mugniyeh in the 1980s, has described him as "the most dangerous terrorist we have ever faced". "Mugniyeh is probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we have ever run across, including the KGB or anyone else," he said.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported yesterday that three Israeli experts had returned last week from Iran, where they had spent 20 days offering engineering and agricultural advice. The report said the men were employees of an Amsterdam-based Israeli company that has done infrastructure work in Arab Gulf states and their identity was known to Iranian officials.
Two of the men were engineers who were asked for advice on strengthening bridges and roads in the event of earthquakes, to which Iran is prone.

The third was an agricultural expert who had been to Iran in 1998 as an adviser. He was taken to the Bushehr area, the report said, to see the farm area he had helped develop. His hosts reportedly said laughingly there was something else in the area -- "a surprise for you Israelis" -- that they couldn't show him, a clear reference to the nuclear reactor being built at Bushehr.
The Israelis participated in the Passover eve meal with members of the Jewish community in Tehran.

During the regime of the Shah, Israel was very active in Iran commercially and offered extensive rehabilitation assistance after disastrous earthquakes. It is not clear why Israeli experts are now invited to Iran when Mr Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.

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