Kuntar: I'll continue the Mughniyeh legacy

Visits grave with four released Hizbullah guerillas; trucks carrying terrorists' coffins head to Beirut.

kuntar nazi 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
kuntar nazi 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Five Lebanese terrorists set free as part of a prisoner swap with Israel prayed Thursday at the grave of a slain Hizbullah military commander, pledging to follow in his footsteps and continue fighting Israel. Wearing military fatigues, the five walked down a red carpet laid out for them outside Imad Mughniyeh's burial spot at a cemetery south of Beirut. They laid wreaths and gave a military salute at the grave as supporters showered them with rice. Mughniyeh, a shadowy figure Israel and the West accuse of masterminding terrorist bombings in the 1980s and 1990s, was killed in a car bomb in neighboring Syria in February. Hizbullah and its supporters regard him as a hero of almost mythical stature. The terror group dubbed Wednesday's prisoner exchange "Operation Radwan" in reference to Mughniyeh's nom de guerre, Hajj Radwan. "We swear to God...to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah bestowed on you," said Lebanon's longest-held prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar. He refered to Mughniyeh's "martyrdom." "This is our great wish. We envy you and we will achieve it, God willing," Kuntar said. A member of the Druse minority sect, Kuntar and four Shi'ite Muslim guerrillas were freed in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah at the onset of the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The exchange was mediated over the past 18 months by a UN-appointed German official. Israel also returned to Lebanon the bodies of nearly 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters who were killed fighting Israel over the past three decades. Four tractor-trailers loaded with coffins carrying their remains were driven Thursday from south Lebanon to Beirut. The convoy was stopped often along the way by throngs of supporters. Villagers showered the coffins with rice and rose petals on the road leading out of the Lebanese coastal town of Naqoura, where Wednesday's swap took place. The coffins were wrapped in Lebanese and Hizbullah flags and covered with wreaths. A banner on one of the trucks read, "The Martyrs of Victory."