February 15, 2008

Imad Who?

Ooh, Martin Kramer has a really good post up on Harvard's blog. For years, Hizbollah denied involvement with Imad Mughniyeh and claimed not have been involved with any terror attacks against U.S. targets in the 1980s. For years they have claimed this. So it's kind of a problem that, post-mortem, they go to lavish ends to claim Mughniyeh as one of their own and hold a big official funeral and have lots of tributes on al-Manar and in other Hizbollah media. Abu Muqawama wonders if any brave Western journalists who gain access to Hizbollah in the near future will ask them about this contradiction.

It is also a problem, as Kramer notes, for scholars of Hizbollah who have more or less endorsed the Hizbollah party line with respect to Mughniyeh. Kramer takes Judith Palmer Harik to task for a few choice passages from her book on Hizbollah, so Abu Muqawama went to his bookshelf and pulled out a few more books on the movement. Folks may have other problems with the books on Hizbollah by Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh and Augustus Richard Norton, but to both scholars' credit, they mention Mughniyeh as a) a Hizbollah operative and b) responsible for coordinating and executing terror attacks in the 1980s and early 1990s.* If anyone has Amal Saad-Ghorayeb's book handy, write a comment below about whether or not she mentions Mughniyeh...

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering, Naim Qassam mentions Mughniyeh not once in his book. Not once. (Abu Muqawama only has the English version with him, though.)

*See page 77 in ARN's book (hardback); ANH hedges a bit (pages 74 and 85 in the hardback) as to whether Mughniyeh was responsible for everything for which he was said to be responsible, but he leaves no doubt (page 24) that Mughniyeh was a founding member of the organization. Abu Muqawama actually likes ANH's book better than ARN's. ANH's book does a better job explaining how Hizbollah functions as an organization, while ARN seems to at times misapply characteristics to Hizbollah that he noticed in Amal in the early 1980s. His book on Amal and Musa al-Sadr, by the way, is quite good if you can find a copy.

P.S. As far as who killed Imad Mughniyeh, a good debate is taking place on the MESH website. Given what we know now, Abu Muqawama tends to side with Michael Young. It's like Occam's Razor. The theories of how and why the Syrian regime might have been complicit are interesting and worth reading, but at the end of the day the most obvious explanation is probably the correct one.

What really happened with Mughniyah? I accept that we’re so in the dark about this case, that one of us might have unintentionally stumbled onto the truth. It seems that everyone in the media is suddenly an expert on the man, but we might all be repeating fallacies that have been circulating for almost 20 years. However, based on what we have, and on the Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah reactions, I still find “the Syrians did it” theory unconvincing.

And just who was Imad Mughniyeh? Marc Sirois has answers. And humility: "...virtually everything that is thought to be known about Mughniyeh - including, now, his death itself - is suspect."