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A liberation hero to Lebanese masses

Thousands mourn Hezbollah military leader

Published Feb 21, 2008 7:46 PM

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, on Feb. 14 to praise and mourn Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who had been assassinated in Damascus, Syria, two days earlier.

An outpouring in Beirut.
Photos: Al Manar

In contrast to this massive sympathetic outpouring of Lebanese people, the corporate media and imperialist officials, especially in the U.S., have denounced Mughniyeh as a “master terrorist.” But this is how the oppressors have viewed every military leader of the oppressed, from the rebel slave Spartacus in ancient Rome to Nat Turner and beyond.

Mughniyeh was a leader of the military wing of Hezbollah, which has fought Israel’s occupation of Lebanon since 1982. Israel’s secret police, the Mossad, and the U.S. CIA had been hunting him since 1983, when he allegedly planned truck-bomb attacks on barracks housing U.S. Marines and French troops occupying Lebanon. The U.S. had reportedly put a price of from $5 million to $25 million on Mughniyeh’s head.

According to Hezbollah and other anti-imperialist organizations in the region, it was Mossad that carried out the assassination.

Imad Mughniyeh

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, general secretary of Hezbollah, eulogized Mughniyeh and praised his role in fighting for liberation, saying that tens of thousands would rise up to replace the martyr. He called the killing of Mughniyeh “a big mistake” that would be avenged and said the struggle may be extended beyond Israel-occupied territory and Lebanon.

Nasrallah said that in the war of 2006, Hezbollah exposed the weaknesses of the Israelis. At that time, the Lebanese resistance—a coalition that included other groups, like the Lebanese Communist Party, but with Hezbollah as the leading force—successfully defended Lebanon from an Israeli invasion.

Nasrallah pointed out in his funeral speech that the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion, a founder of the state of Israel, had written that Israel would fall after its first defeat in a war. He added that the recently released Winograd report—about an inquiry by Israel into the 2006 war—admitted that this war was Israel’s first real defeat. These facts were the basis for Nasrallah’s statement that “The blood of Imad Mughniyeh will eliminate [Israel].”

Reactions from diverse groups condemn Israel, U.S.

In the Syrian capital, the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine blamed the Israelis for the killing, which they vowed to avenge.

Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television channel, said that Mughniyeh exhausted Israel for a quarter of a century and called his death a loss to Lebanon and Palestine.

Usamah Hamdan, representative of the Hamas movement in Lebanon, said, “The crime is a direct offshoot of the campaign being launched by the U.S. administration against the resistance forces in the region.”

Abu-Imad al-Rifa’i, representative of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Lebanon, said that “The blood of martyr Imad will breathe new life in, and unleash, the jihad and struggle of our people in Palestine.” He added that “The blood of the martyrs in the Islamic resistance in Lebanon flows together with the blood that is being spilled in Palestine.”

Dr. Hazim Abu-Shanab, a Fatah movement leader in Gaza, said: “All the assassinations committed by the Israeli occupation state against the Palestinians, Lebanese and all others are criminal acts that violate international law and can never be tolerated. All the resistance factions should aid one another.”

“The stamp of the criminal [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak is on this cowardly operation, for which, God willing, he will personally pay a heavy price,” said the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Other media reported that Lebanese Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, who has been allied with Hezbollah, said, “The assassination of Muganiyeh is a clear aggression on Lebanon and Syria.”

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani condemned the U.S. and Israel for welcoming Mughniyeh’s assassination, saying the car bomb that killed him was an act of terrorism.

U.S., Israeli role

The Israeli state has assassinated many Palestinian and other Arab liberation leaders over the decades, sometimes openly taking credit for these terrorist acts. While this time the Israeli government denied it had killed the historic Hezbollah leader, both members of the Knesset (Parliament) and the Israeli media celebrated Mughniyeh’s death as a victory for the Israeli state. White House statements also celebrated the military leader’s death.

Veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery wrote on Feb. 16 of the orgy of self-congratulation in the Israeli media over Mughniyeh’s killing, despite the Israeli government’s official denial. He described Israel as being expert in high technology but even more expert in “liquidations.” He pointed out how earlier liquidations—such as that of Hezbollah General Secretary Abbas Mussawi in 1992 by U.S.-built helicopter gunships—roused the same orgy of self-satisfaction in Israel, but had only led to an increase of strength for Hezbollah.

White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe would say only that he was “not familiar with the circumstances of the death,” when asked if the U.S. had played any role in the assassination. (New York Times, Feb. 14) Al-Jazeera television said the U.S. had mounted several secret operations in recent years that had repeatedly tried to capture or kill Mughniyeh, but without success.

Mughniyeh was on the FBI’s list of “most wanted terrorists” and had been indicted in the U.S. for his alleged role in planning the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner. He was accused of an unbelievably large number of military actions, the most dramatic being the bombings of barracks of foreign troops occupying Lebanon in October 1983 that killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

At that time, the Reagan administration and the Mitterrand government in France had sent the youth of their countries to be cannon fodder in an imperialist occupation of Lebanon. The explosions at the barracks drove them out. It should be no surprise then, that Mughniyeh, assuming he was responsible, became a hero and martyr for the Lebanese while being called a “terrorist” by the imperialist oppressors.

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