The London Times reports that Iran's fanatical leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had a meeting in Damascus last month with the most successful terrorist in the world, Imad Mughniyeh, long—time head of "overseas operations" for Hizbullah.
"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, successful attacks that took scores of lives and established his reputation as a formidable terrorist capable of executing attacks outside the Arab world.
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.
Michael Ledeen, a former member of the US National Security Council, said last week that senior American officials confirmed Mugniyeh's presence at the Damascus meeting. Mr Ledeen said Mugniyeh had altered his face and fingerprints in order to make his identification difficult.Jane's Intelligence Review has cited "reports in recent weeks" of Mugniyeh's presence alongside the Iranian leader.
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."
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