Bomb Kills Top Hezbollah Terror Chief

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CBNNews.com - A car bombing late Tuesday night in an upscale residential neighborhood in Damascus targeted arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, 45, Hezbollah's al-Manar satellite television reported.

The assassinated terror chief, who has been in hiding for years, was on the FBI's most wanted list, with a $25 million bounty on his head -- the same bounty offered for al-Qaeda's Osama Bin Laden.

Mughniyeh masterminded the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and an attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon that same year, which killed 260 Americans.

He was also among the terrorists indicted for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed.

Israeli intelligence believes Mughniyeh planned the 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina, which left 29 people dead, and he was also responsible for the 1994 bombing at a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 95.

Mughniyeh, who was close to Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, was the terror group's number two man in Syria, serving as liaison with Iran and heading up its "military" wing.

Hezbollah blamed Israel for his death.

"With all pride we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs…The brother commander jajj Imad Mughinyeh became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis," al-Manar announced.

Hamas also accused Israel of the assassination.

"We condemn this crime and we emphasize that the Muslim nation must rise up to confront the Zionist devil, which is backed by the Americans," said Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Samir Abu Zuhri.

Israel rejected Hezbollah's accusation.

"Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident. We have nothing further to add," read a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

Mugniyah was involved in numerous terror attacks on Israel's northern border with Lebanon and is believed to have masterminded the kidnapping and murder of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Souad, whose remains were returned in a prisoner exchange in 2004.

Israeli intelligence believes Mugniyah also planned the cross-border attack in the summer of 2006, which sparked the Second Lebanon War. Eight IDF soldiers were killed in that incident and two others -- Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev -- kidnapped. Their status remains unknown.

Sources: The Associated Press, YNet news service, The Jerusalem Post

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