Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Imad Fayez Mugniyah (born December 7, 1962) is a senior member of the Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah. He is alternatively described as the head of its security section, a senior intelligence official and as a founder of the organization. This discrepancy can be traced to the limited information known about him. He uses the name Hajj as an alias.
Mugniyah has been implicated in many of the noted terrorist attacks of the 1980s and 1990s, primarily American and Israeli targets. These include the April 18, 1983 bombing of the United States embassy in Beirut, which killed 63 people including 17 Americans. He was later blamed for the October 23, 1983 simultaneous truck bombings against the French paratroopers and US Marine barracks (see: Marine Barracks Bombing). The attacks killed 58 French soldiers and 241 Marines. Almost a year later on September 20, 1984, he attacked the US embassy annex building. The United States indicted him for the July 14, 1985 hijacking of flight TWA-847, which resulted in the death of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. He was also linked to the numerous kidnappings of Westerners in Beirut through the 1980s, most notably that of Terry Anderson. Some these individuals were later killed such as U.S. Army Col William Francis Buckley. The remainder were release at various times until the last one, Terry Anderson was released in 1991
Mugniyah has also been charged with participating in the March 17, 1992 bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires Argentina, which killed 29 and the AIMA cultural building in July 1994, killing 86 people. He has been accused of orchestrating the 2000 abductions of three Israeli soldiers in the southern part of Lebanon and abduction of Israeli Colonel Elchanan Tenenbaum.
Relationships to al-Qaeda and other groups
Mugniyah has been accused of being an ally of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. According to the testimony of Ali Mohammed , he arranged security for a meeting between Mugniyah and al-Qaeda operatives in 1993. This connection has lead some to believe he was also behind the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers complex, which resulted in the deaths of 19 American service members, 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole bombing in 2000.
He has also been linked to Palestinian actions, such as the Karine-A incident in 2001, where the Palestinian Authority was accused of importing fifty tons of weapons. He was previously a member of Force 17, an armed branch of the Fatah movement charged with providing security for Yasser Arafat and other prominent PLO officials.
It is currently believed that Mugniyah alternately resides in Iran, where he is under the protection of the Revolutionary Guard and Lebanon. It also rumored he has undergone plastic surgery to disguise his appearance.
Actions of law enforcement
Various law enforcement agencies have attempted to capture Mugniyah. The United States tried to secure his capture in France in 1986, but were thwarted by French refusal to detain him.
The United States tried to detain him several times afterwards. The first being a 1995 attempt to detain him as the plane he was traveling on was suppose to stop in Saudi Arabia. However Saudi officials refused to allow the plane to land and he was not captured. The next year US military personal planned to seize him off a ship in Doha Qatar, but the operation was called off. In 2002, Mugniyah was placed on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list and a reward of $25 million dollars was offered for information leading to his arrest was offered.
The Israeli government has also made several alleged attempts to assassinate Mugniyah. One of these was a 1994 car bombing, which killed his brother Faud Mugniyah. It should be noted the Israeli government as a matter of policy rarely confirms it involvement in assassination attempts.
In 1999, the Argentina government issued an arrest warrant for Mugniyah for his involvement in the 1994 AIMA culture center bombing.
- FBI Most Wanted Terrorist
- "Hizbullah Terrorism in Argentina" (a Federation of American Scientist editorial of the Free Europe Radio service)
- "Deadly infiltrator's trail" ("Washington Times" commentary)
- "U.S. renews bid to catch Beirut bombing suspect" (CNN, 10/10/01)
- 60 Minutes II article about Mugniyah and an attempted seizure of him back in 1996
- 1/2002 article by the British newspaper Telegraph linking him the Karine A incident
- PBS Frontline website for its show on the Hizbullah
- Another Frontline website- interview with a former CIA officer about Mugniyah
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