Imad Mughniyeh 224 88.
(photo credit: FBI Website)
The head of Hizbullah's military wing, Imad Mughniyeh - considered the organization's second in command - was killed in a car bombing in Damascus late Tuesday night, Hizbullah's Al-Manar television reported Wednesday.
Mughniyeh was reportedly very close to Hizbullah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and also served as Hizbullah's liaison with Iran.
He was held responsible by Israel for numerous terror attacks, as well as for masterminding a 1994 bombing at a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85. In addition, he is believed to be responsible for hijacking a TWA flight in 1985.
He has also targeted US citizens - the United States holds him responsible for an attack on the US embassy in Beirut and another on a marine base there that left over 200 soldiers dead. Wanted in at least 40 countries, he has been on the FBI's top-20 terrorist list for years.
Hizbullah has blamed Israel for Mughniyeh's assassination. "With all pride we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs... The brother commander hajj Imad Mughinyeh became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis," said a statement carried on Al-Manar.
Mughinyeh's assassination, the first major attack against a leader of Hizbullah since the 1992 helicopter strike that killed the Hizbullah secretary-general Sheikh Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon, was a major blow to the guerrilla group.
Hamas spoke out against the assassination. "We condemn this crime and we emphasize the Muslim nation must rise up to confront the Zionist devil which is back by the Americans," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
The explosion occurred at about 10:45 p.m. in the Syrian capital's upscale Kafar Soussa neighborhood. Security forces quickly sealed off the area and removed the destroyed car, which had its driver's seat and the rear seat blown away by the force of the blast.
There are no government buildings located in the mostly residential neighborhood. An Iranian school is about a few hundred meters from the blast, but the school was unscathed.
Damascus has seen a number of attacks in recent years, blamed on Islamic terrorists. Those includes an attack against the US Embassy in 2006 that left three gunmen and a Syrian guard dead. One bombing also targeted the vehicle of a Palestinian terror official, who escaped assassination in 2004.