Last year's assassination of Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah's military commander who was wanted for his role in scores of high-profile attacks, was facilitated by the capture of a senior Hezbollah officer in Iraq, an Israeli newspaper reported.
The report claimed that important details used to plan the assassination were gathered from Ali Moussa Daqduq, a Hezbollah operative who was arrested in Iraq in January 2007, where he was allgedly training members of the Shiite Mahdi Army. He was handed to US intelligence agents, who extracted a wealth of information about Mugniyah from their prisoner, including his telephone numbers, his physical description, his behavioral traits and the names of his acquaintances.
The US then passed this information to the Israeli intelligence service, which began planning an operation to kill the Hezbollah military mastermind. The newspaper says a single mistake by Mugniyah led to his death. Israel received intelligence that he would be attending a reception hosted by Iran's new ambassador to Damascus to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Mugniyah had apparently eschewed his usual security detail for the event, traveling without his bodyguards or chauffeur, and had arrived at the reception alone. He had no idea that a Mossad hit squad was lying in wait for him. According to the newspaper, Israel had dispatched a team of agents tasked with killing Mugniyah to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq before the reception. The team slipped across the border into Syria in three vehicles and began monitoring their target the day before he died.
Mugniyah's assassination is arguably one of the biggest successes in the war. He was behind the single largest attack against Americans after the Sept. 11 strikes. Mugniyah engineered the suicide attacks in Beirut that killed 241 US Marines and and 58 French paratroopers in 1982. He also was behind the establishment of the Mahdi Army.
While the Iraq war is often derided as a victory for Iran as its influence in Iraq has increased, one thing that is never discussed is the new knowledge that has been obtained on Iran's operations, including that of its Qods Force and Hezbollah. The best way to gain knowledge of your enemy and its covert operations is to engage them in battle. The Mugniyah assassination is but one of multiple intelligence breakthroughs that has come from this war; others will not be evident for years to come.