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Washington accuses Syria of killing of Imad Mughniyya; Israel expects quick revenge

Feb. 18, 2008 12:44 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 18, 2008 12:44 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell suggested that Syria or internal Hezbollah factions could have been behind the assassination of Hezbollah's military commander, Imad Mughniyya in Damascus last week.

"There's some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria. We don't know yet, and we're trying to sort that out," McConnell told reporters on Sunday. The United States intelligence agencies are investigating these claims.

The US official said that Israel is expected to be the main target of Hezbollah's threats for revenge, however, the US is also taking preventive security measures because they consider that Mughnayya was number two killer of American citizens after Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda.

Sources close to the Israeli intelligence services expect Hezbollah to take revenge as soon as February 22. The sources claimed that Hezbollah commandos will try to hit a prominent Druze leader in Lebanon in retaliation for the assassination of Mughniyya.

Separately, the Israeli website "Debka" claimed that a Syrian military commander has come back to Lebanon for the first time since 2005 for the purpose of undertaking assassinations in retaliation for the killing of Imad Mughniyya in Syrian territory.

Israeli unofficial sources quoted American intelligence sources as saying that information from Damascus added credence to the suggestion that Hezbollah will undertake a series of actions in retaliation rather than one single assassination.

The renowned Israeli political analyst Ehud Ya'ari said on Israeli TV that results of the investigations in the assassination of Mughniyya, once revealed, will be "an earthquake" because it is mostly likely to reveal that Lebanese actors possibly Druze leaders, were behind the assassination.

According to Debka, the initial results of the investigations were:

1 - The Israeli Mosad sent a cell to Lebanon to assassinate Hezbollah's leaders in both Lebanon and Syria.

- 2 The cell, according to Debka, includes agents from Saudi or Jordanian origins.

3- The Syrian authorities have proof that the Lebanese intelligence and security services, which are led by the Druze, were behind the killing of Mughniyya.

4 - The unit sent to kill Mughniyya has planted several explosive devices to ensure that he would be hit even if he changed his route, or used another car. Investigations are also ongoing to detect where that Mitsubishi jeep came from and who imported it.

5 - Five hundred steel nails have been found in the jeep and the surrounding walls.

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