2 Hizbullah kidnapping attempts foiled

Israeli security operations succeeded in preventing guerilla group from "avenging death of Mughniyeh."

Imad Mughniyeh good 248 (photo credit: AP)
Imad Mughniyeh good 248
(photo credit: AP)
Two attempts by Hizbullah to kidnap Israeli businessmen abroad in retaliation for the February assassination of Imad Mughniyeh were recently foiled by Israeli security services, government officials revealed on Monday. Officials refused to divulge additional information but said that the two cases underlined the gravity of the threat Israelis are currently facing overseas. The plots, officials said, were thwarted at advanced stages. Mughniyeh, Hizbullah's chief operations officer, was assassinated in Damascus in a meticulously-planned car bombing. Hizbullah has repeatedly declared that it planned to avenge his death and strike at Israel, which it blames for the assassination. On Friday, deputy Hizbullah chief Sheikh Naim Kassem said the group would retaliate and that the attack would come as a surprise for Israel. "Revenge is a legitimate right," Kassem told the Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Manar television station during an interview. "Why is Israel allowed to murder and to assassinate and the world looks away? For everything there is a time, God willing. We won't get into details, but the Israelis will be surprised." Two weeks ago, Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a travel advisory urging Israeis worldwide to take precautions due to the risk of being kidnapped by Hizbullah. While the travel advisory did not focus on a specific country, an earlier advisory had been issued for the West Africa region. Israeli security officials have traveled to various countries in Africa in recent months to personally meet with businessmen and other Israelis living there to warn them of the growing threat. Channel 2 reported that Hizbullah had cells in West Africa and South America. Hizbullah is believed to maintain a strong presence in West Africa in Shi'ite Muslim communities whose members have significant control over the import of basic commodities and the local diamond trade. Israelis have been targeted in Africa before. In 2002, suicide bombers killed 13 people and injured more than 80 in an attack on the Paradise Hotel, a popular Israeli vacation spot, in Mombassa, Kenya. At the same time, two shoulder-fired missiles were launched at an Israeli charter jet that had taken off from a nearby airport. The missiles missed their target.