This editorial by Prof. Bowen was published in the News Leader (Staunton VA: February 15, 2008): A9.
by Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
(Professor, Depts. of Political Science and of International Relations, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401)
Since it sometimes is difficult to read every word of a scanned article (as above), here is a clear copy of the original version of this editorial for readers' reference:
If in recent months a haze of doubt has gathered over some U.S. charges against Iran, events this week clearly demonstrate one danger certainly continues to flow from that Islamic Republic. Iran continues to be an advocate for, and a sponsor of, anti-Western terrorists. On this basis, any U.S. administration taking office in 2009 must recognize Iran as a serious threat to U.S. national security.
On February 12, 2008, a car bomb in Damascus, Syria killed one of Iran’s best friends: notorious international terrorist Imad Mugniyah. The key military organizer for Lebanon’s Hezbollah’s during its 1980’s spree of hostage-taking of Westerners in Lebanon, Mugniyah was placed under indictment in the U.S. for the 1985 murder there of U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem. Yet, Mugniyah could not be reached by U.S. arrest warrants for nearly a quarter century. Despite a $5 million reward from the U.S. Government on his head, Mugniyah remained protected by the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, of which he was a leader, and by the Syrian and Iranian governments. In 1990, he relocated his wife and two young children to Tehran. Despite overtures to the West seeking better relations, neither of these governments would even consider turning their Lebanese ally Mugniyah over to U.S. law enforcement.
So protected, Mugniyah stayed active. Arabic language news accounts have referred to his meeting Osama bin Laden in Sudan in the early 1990’s, and intelligence sources have suggested that he was instrumental in gaining sanctuary in Iran for some of bin Laden’s relatives after 9/11. Mugniyah was so beyond reach that when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to Damascus in 2006 to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mugniyah accompanied him.
Ultimately, direct action was the only way that justice could be brought to this man. We do not know who placed the car bomb that killed Mugniyah and a second Hezbollah official this week. Speculation in the Middle East about the authors of the killing has run the gamut, from the Israelis, to the C.I.A., to rival Lebanese factions. The exact perpetrators may never be certain. But what is certain is that Mugniyah –one of the few persons alive who was a confidante of both Osama bin Laden and top Iranian officials– will kill no more.
Who laments this? Just as a lot is shown by paying attention to a person’s friends in life, plenty also is revealed by noticing those who eulogize a person like Mugniyah in death. In this sense, Iran’s clear ties to terrorism are to be found in its actions regarding Mugniyah’s death. Invoking “eye for an eye” type of rhetoric, broadcasts from Tehran immediately named Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as the persons most responsible for the loss of their friend and ally. In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s Al Manar television interrupted regular programming to report the bombing, and to praise their fallen comrade.
Contrarily, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declared: “The world is a better place without this man in it. One way or another, he was brought to justice.” Let us hope that in 2009, such clarity remains throughout our government.
Feb. 15, 2008
Al Jazeera News (English), "Hezbollah mourns senior leader," (Feb. 13, 2008): http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/553C019C-9D22-424D-89C1-8AA4F39C99BC.htm
BBC News, "Bomb kills top Hezbollah Leader," (Feb. 13, 2008): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7242383.stm
Gordon Bowen, "Stethem's murderer should not have been freed," News Leader (Staunton VA: January 22, 2006): A9.
Anthony Shadid and Alia Ibrahim, "Bombing Kills Top Figure in Hezbollah," Washington Post (Feb. 14, 2008): 1, 21.
Elisabeth Smick, "Profile: Imad Mugniyah," Council on Foreign Relations online: http://www.cfr.org/publication/11317/
Carl Wege, "Iran's Terrorist Asset: A History of Imad Mugniyah," Terrorism Monitor 4, 17 (Sept. 8, 2006): http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370123
Robin Wright, "Commander Became Prototype of Extremism," Washington Post (Feb. 14, 2008): 21.
"Golden Page of Resistance," Jerusalem Post online (February 13, 2008): http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1202742148715&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
"Major coup in war on terror: Notorious Hizballah terrorist hostage-taker Imad Mughniyeh killed in Damascus," DEBKAFile (February 13, 2008): , http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5024
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