Saudis killed Mughniyeh, say Iranian sources
Tehran, 8 April (AKI) - Saudi Arabia is believed to be behind the death of a top commander with Lebanon's militant Shia group Hezbollah, Imad Mughniyeh, according to well-informed sources cited in a report on the Iranian news agency Fars.
Mughniyeh was killed on 12 February in a car bombing in Syria.
Unnamed sources told Fars that Syria's delay in announcing the results of an investigation into Mughniyeh's death "cannot be explained other than by the pressure exercised by some Arab states." Fars is said to be close to the government of hardline Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Fars report said that the Syrian commission of inquiry should have already concluded its probe into the killing and the results should have been made public before the recent meeting of the Arab League in the Syrian capital Damascus.
"Pressure by Kuwait convinced the government in Damascus to postpone everything till the day after the [Arab League] meeting ended," said the Fars report. The news agency goes on to say that the additional delay has come about because of pressure from Riyadh. One of the sources cited by Fars also pointed the finger at the Saudis and suggested that Riyadh was behind Mughniyeh's death.
"Through a Syrian woman, a Saudi secret service agent who works in Damascus acquired two cars that were used by Israeli secret service agents to kill the commander Haj Imad Mughniyeh," said the Fars report. According to the Iranian news agency, the people involved in organising the attack which killed the military leader of Hezbollah, were Palestinian, Jordanian and Syrian citizens. The source cited in Fars also said that it knew the place where the killers had lived in the days leading up to the 12 February car bomb attack.
According to this source, the Palestinians and Jordanians who gathered in Damascus to kill Mughniyeh, lived with their family members in certain apartments in the Kafr Sousa quarter of the city, so as not to raise suspicion.
The Fars report said the former US ambassador to Washington, Banda al-Sultan, ordered the killing of Mughniyeh and that the Saudis did so to avenge the attack against a US military base in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. A carbomb attack on 25 June 1996 at the Abdul Aziz airbase in Khobar, near Dhahran, killed 19 US soldiers and injured 446 people, including 173 Americans. The Saudis have always suggested Mughniyeh planned and organised this attack. Fars also cited an attempt by the governments of Qatar and Kuwait to bring about mediation between Damascus and Riyadh, so that the results of the investigation into Mughniyeh's death are not made public or at least do not contain any reference to Saudi Arabia. The publication of this information in an Iranian news agency could be interpreted as an attempt by Tehran to neutralise this effort at mediation.