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Why now? Story breaks that US teamed with Israel in assassinating Iranian ‘agent’ in ’08

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Last weekend both Newsweek and the Washington Post published long investigative pieces on the assassination of a senior Hezbollah figure in Damascus seven years ago– February 2008. Lots of folks are wondering, why now? As the Jerusalem Post notes, “Whoever leaked the details… to two US publications… did not do so capriciously.”

The two publications say the cold case is news because it was long assumed that the Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniyah, was killed by Mossad. No; both pieces carried a simple new message: the United States was in on it too. Newsweek:

Media reports fingered Israel’s legendary Mossad for the hit. But according to former U.S. intelligence officials interviewed by Newsweek, the Mugniyah hit was a CIA operation, authorized personally by President George W. Bush…

[A former CIA operative said,] “It was an Israeli-American operation. Everybody knows CIA did it—everybody in the Middle East anyway.”

Newsweek’s piece is by the very reputable Jeff Stein. Stein attributes the timing to the fact that the CIA wants credit in an era of grisly terror attacks.

“That was us,” said a former official who participated in the project, on condition of anonymity to discuss the operation. “The Israelis told us where he was and gave us logistical help. But we designed the bomb that killed him and supervised the operation.”…

The CIA’s authorship of Mugniyah’s bloody death, [a former intelligence] operative said, should have been told long ago. “It sends the message that we will track you down, no matter how much time it takes,” he said. “The other side needs to know this.”

The Jerusalem Post also says the leak was generated by the US security establishment: it’s an American warning to Israel and its prime minister, you need the U.S.

Most likely, someone wanted to send the following message to the people of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: You need us.

Look at the extent of the cooperation between our intelligence communities, which risks being damaged due to the discordant policies of your prime minister.

Annie Robbins (who helped me on this post) and I favor a different theory: the story is an effort to entwine the U.S. with Israel and its war with its neighbors just as the United States is showing signs of separating itself.

Matthew Levitt shares equal billing to reporter Adam Goldman in the Washington Post video on the case below, in which Mughniyah is described as being as bad as Osama bin Laden. Levitt is not a reporter; he works for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the thinktank that the Israel lobby group AIPAC spun off a couple of decades ago so as to help Israel more effectively in Washington. He is cited a couple of times in the Post article:

Beginning in 2003, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, began to train and arm Shiite militant groups in Iraq, which later began attacking coalition forces, according to Matthew Levitt, who recently wrote a book about Hezbollah and is director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli intelligence boss, is blunt about the Iranian connection in speaking to the Post: “[Mughniyah] was the agent of the Iranians.”

In the video, Levitt says that as head of Hezbollah’s international terrorist wing, Mugniyah was committing heinous acts all over the world. Just as he testified on Capitol Hill about Iran’s “terror” efforts “on U.S. soil.”

By the way, just a year ago Levitt was blaming Syria’s Assad for the Mughniyah assassination:

“[B]oth Hezbollah and Iran privately suspected that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad may have played a role in Mughniyeh’s death.”

Now Levitt says it was the U.S. playing a role in the international killing of an Iranian agent.

The piece is getting picked up all over: 128 articles.

Story about US and Israel carrying off assassination gets a lot of pickup

Story about US and Israel carrying off assassination gets a lot of pickup


Marcy Wheeler also has a post on the story, and observes:

Newsweek had this story longer than WaPo, but was willing to heed CIA’s request not to publish. WaPo did and now CIA’s in a snit again.

Timewise, I think it likely to make an Iranian deal harder. I think it’s probably meant to fuck with any pushback about Israel assassinating Iran’s IGRC general in Syria.

Meantime, the Iranian president says that a deal with the west over nuclear operations is getting closer. Not so fast, Mr. Rouhani!

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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46 Responses

  1. Krauss on February 4, 2015, 12:26 pm

    B-b-but here is Tom Friedman, saying that bipartisan support for Israel no matter what it does is in America’s interest!

    Making support for Israel more of a Republican cause is not at all in Israel’s interest — or America’s. Israel needs the support of more than just Congress or one party.

    I wonder how the Zionist establishment would react if you had a Palestininan-American saying that it’s the American national interest to support the moves of the Palestinian government(if they had a unity Fatah-Hamas government that lasted for more than a few months).

    And then there’s this bit:

    If Congress wants to get Israel’s perspective on how to deal with Iran, then it should also invite the top Israeli intelligence and military officers, current and retired, who have been arguing publicly against Netanyahu’s threatened use of force against Iran. Why are we getting only one Israeli view? How is that in America’s interest?

    Why is it in America’s interest at all to have a bunch of Israelis telling them how to deal with the Middle East? Does he think that these people think of Israel’s security first or America’s?

    The crazy thing is that Tom Friedman probably believes his own hasbara. He probably really thinks that America’s interest is the same as Israel’s. He has so fully assimiliated the Israeli narrative he can no longer distinguish the two.

    Israel Firster should be resurrected.

    • chinese box on February 4, 2015, 6:01 pm

      Friedman’s piece was a joke (no surprise there). The interesting part was that I got the impression that it’s intended audience was American Jews rather than the general NYT readership–see this line:

      “I’ve polled many of my non-Jewish friends, who follow world politics and are sympathetic to Israel, and they really don’t like this.”

  2. pabelmont on February 4, 2015, 12:53 pm

    “Israel firster” should be resurrected but all them IF’s should be disbarred, so to speak. Got no business giving advice to good ole USofA.

    And another thing: why is it in the CIA’s interest (or USA’s) fo CIA to claim credit for an assassination? Will that make ISIS or Al Qaeda or Taliban back down? Get nice? Play softball? Or strike back?

  3. John Douglas on February 4, 2015, 1:26 pm

    Thanks to Phil and Annie for this. I hadn’t thought to ask myself “why now?” But as soon as I saw the “why now?” headline I though, “Of course, the Iran talks and the continental drift taking place in US Israel relations.” And think how many high-fivers there would be inside the Beltway if a US target got hit.

    • MRW on February 4, 2015, 8:31 pm

      All it proves is that Jews control media in a big way. (I concur with annie and Phil’s pov.) You honestly think this would get printed if an intel leak ran counter to what the US pro-Israeli group wanted with March 3 looming? This is the joined values line.

      This is big-bad-Iran propaganda in advance of His Nibs’ speech. It’s so transparent. And then the dissemination: 128 articles? C’mon.

  4. ckg on February 4, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Concerning the unknown motive for the leak, one thing to note is that both leak recipients, Jeff Stein of Newsweek and Adam Goldman of the Washington Post, have previously revealed U.S. intelligence establishment’s frustration with Israeli counterintelligence (see here and here). This suggests to me that their sources may be more motivated to keep Israel in line rather than in further entwining it.

    • annie on February 4, 2015, 3:45 pm

      ckg, stein’s article you linked to expressed “U.S. intelligence establishment’s frustration with Israeli counterintelligence” (spying) inside the US. whereas in the current article pertains to joint projects in the ME. he also writes “When queried by Newsweek, the CIA and all the participants named in this story refused to acknowledge any agency involvement in the operation”, which mean they didn’t cooperate.

      either way, klein also writes (what i assume anyone who follows ME politics closely already knows):

      a former senior CIA operative with deep Middle East experience: “It was an Israeli-American operation. Everybody knows CIA did it—everybody in the Middle East anyway.”

      also, keep in mind nasrallah and hezbollah released a 6 part video in 2012 ( after busting a cadre of cia spies in lebanon that ties the cia directly to the assassination. so therefore in my eyes it really begs the question why now?

      one thing not really explored extensively in this article is that this release peddled as ‘breaking news’ (which emptywheel says newsweek was sitting on and i read elsewhere had been hanging around for awhile) was dramatically thrust into the limelight in the middle of a press field day over netanyahu’s congressional speech. and it read to me as an attempt to cememt this idea of our (US/IS)unified goals. but also, contrary to the jpost claim that it was intended as a reminder to israel how important the US was to them, i really read the opposite.


      apparently U.S. counterterrorist operatives couldn’t find him.
      In 2007, however, Mossad’s then-chief, Meir Dagan, tipped the CIA off to a Mugniyah hideout in Damascus, said another source involved in the hunt.

      “Dagan said basically, ‘We have acquired the location of him and we know that he has a lot of American blood on his hands and so we would like to offer this up to you

      stein could have been just doing his job. but there was so much drama in his reporting “he disappeared like a wisp” plus opening with the bin laden reference in the 1st sentence and repeating so many unconfirmed claims: “Mugniyah was also credited with quarterbacking the bombing of the Marine and French paratrooper barracks at the Beirut airport in 1983”

      credited by whom? certainly not hezbollah. and levitt in his book credits sources like an anonymous arab in beirut, anon israeli intel, allegedly the cia but via anon israeli intel, allegedly a hezbollah mole telling the anon fbi. i mean really!

      anyway, another curiosity is the recent israeli attack on hezbollah and the resulting hezbollah attack. so cementing the US with israeli action at this time really only enhances one side, logistically, other than impressing the american public a la american sniper sentiments. i just think it was a wild ploy to release this very non breaking breaking news after 8 years. and i’m not seeing how it ‘keeps israel in line’.

      • ckg on February 4, 2015, 8:12 pm

        Thanks, Annie, for your well-considered and lengthy reply. Your reasoning makes sense. The reason I think the leak keeps Israel in line is that it underscores for the Israeli electorate the Israel’s military dependence on the U.S. at a time when their PM is able to improve his political standing, as evidenced by recent polling, by gleefully poking his finger in the President’s eye. Netanyahu’s brashness must certainly raise the ire of intelligence officials in Washington, raising the motivation for this kind of retaliatory leak.

      • annie on February 4, 2015, 9:16 pm

        it underscores for the Israeli electorate the Israel’s military dependence on the U.S. at a time when their PM is able to improve his political standing, as evidenced by recent polling, by gleefully poking his finger in the President’s eye.

        israel voters don’t really like it when it’s underscored how much they need the US. in fact, quite the opposite. in fact, this wasn’t very big news in israel. the biggest news of this i saw in israel was the jpost article that claimed mossad was actually the leader of the pact. that’s not a message designed for israelis and it’s having NO impact in their election. it’s a message for americans. that’s the undercurrent when i read the articles, that mossad is really happening and we’re cozy as 2 peas in a pod.

        anyway, to each his own.

      • MRW on February 4, 2015, 8:39 pm


        repeating so many unconfirmed claims: “Mugniyah was also credited with quarterbacking the bombing of the Marine and French paratrooper barracks at the Beirut airport in 1983″

        Yeah, when he was 21 and Hizbollah didn’t exist. Of course, this will probably be listed as fact soon on Wikipedia. OTOH, we have Victor Ostrovsky who wrote the Israelis engineered the bombing of the Marines, if I remember correctly.

      • annie on February 4, 2015, 9:06 pm

        mrw, i swear when i first started researching this, i spent hours pouring over a bunch of levitt’s allegations, the way he just casually drops facts as if it’s already established. like he opens articles with ”remember such and such?” and then i google it and the only reference is ..himself!!! and before you know it he’s some witness in front of congress because he’s an “expert”. and he just loads you down with footnotes but low and behold when you track down the source in the footnote..amazingly it doesn’t back up the allegation, nor was it even mentioned! what a scam.

      • MRW on February 4, 2015, 11:41 pm

        Kudos to you, annie, for doing that. I spent years doing that kind of work, initially not because I wanted to show the writer up, but because I was alarmed that I was missing a lot of news and ‘how could I have’? How could I have missed something so seminal, sort of thing. I was shocked. The circular references, the bullshit, the use of friends and self-sourcing. The complete abdication of government officials failing to do due-diligence. Glad you’re recording this here for posterity. I’ve now developed a nose for this BS. ;-) and the sad thing is that they get away with it, and we have to spend hours undoing it.

      • annie on February 5, 2015, 2:58 pm

        winep isn’t done with us. they’ve got another missive u[ at haaretz, this time claiming the cia released this info now to send a message to hezbollah. one @NadavPollak does the ol “why now” too but ads this:

        The decision to share this information with the media holds a hidden agenda. Intelligence agencies don’t just volunteer confidential information for the heck of it; they have an objective in mind.

        he just forgot to mention the CIA didn’t “go public”, according to the cia.

        (When queried by Newsweek, the CIA and all the participants named in this story refused to acknowledge any agency involvement in the operation.)

        so who are the leakers and why did they go public? that’s what winep doesn’t want you to ask.

  5. JLewisDickerson on February 4, 2015, 2:52 pm

    RE: the photo of Matthew Levitt of WINEP

    MY QUESTION: Is Matthew Levitt wearing Sara Palin glasses/spectacles? Enquiring minds mimes want to know!™

  6. amigo on February 4, 2015, 2:56 pm

    It looks as if the bibi sitter may not be standing in front of the congress .This smacks of sour grapes and an attempt to destroy the Iran talks using any methods necessary.

    Hasbara brigade is on high alert.Any possibility of peace between the US and Iran is becoming an existential threat to Israel. All hands on deck .Man your phones/pc,s/Lap tops /pads.Get twittering for Israel.Uncle bibi needs you now.

  7. surewin on February 4, 2015, 5:12 pm

    “Why now?” I don’t know, but I do know that it’s a good question, and, more importantly, it’s an important kind of question. Y’all should ask a lot more of them here on this site. Official stories are always designed to bring about certain consequences, not to inform the public of the truth. All official stories about historical and current events should be doubted and investigated. All of them.

  8. American on February 4, 2015, 5:15 pm

    “Why now?”… was my question a few days ago when I mentioned this on MW

    Didnt buy this spin—“the CIA wants credit in an era of grisly terror attacks.’

    Didnt buy this spin —> ‘the leak was generated by the US security establishment: it’s an American warning to Israel and its prime minister, you need the U.S.”

    Did buy the same as this —>”Annie Robbins (who helped me on this post) and I favor a different theory: the story is an effort to entwine the U.S. with Israel and its war with its neighbors just as the United States is showing signs of separating itself.”

    Typical Israel ploy.
    Drag in the US and at the same time wave the big bad US as Isr’s partner in the face of Hezbollah.
    Since I dont think everyone is as stupid of the zios think everyone is I am pretty sure Hezbollah and most other actors in the ME recongize this ‘leak’ for what it is.

    I dont believe it is the policy of the CIA to go around telling on themselves or seeking public credit for their asassinations –the opposite in fact—so I would guess this ticked off the CIA also to have this put back out.

    • annie on February 4, 2015, 6:23 pm

      yes, i bet it ticked off the cia too american, plus there’s that added feature/veiled threat – the implication that there’s more where this came from.

      • just on February 4, 2015, 6:29 pm

        You can say that again.

  9. American on February 4, 2015, 11:36 pm

    Well I am seeing everything I said 10 years ago come true.
    I said the day would come when Jewish and other supporters of Israel would have to choose to stand with the US or stand with Israel…but fools that they are they never thought it would happen.
    I said Israel and its agents would keep pushing and pushing the US envelope and they have. ..and they will keep on pushing it

    Everything about the US and Israel is beyond even the upside- down, black is white, wrong is right world in Orwell’s 1984.
    Our so called leaders are like children trying to pat their heads and rub their stomach at the same time –the spectacle of the Jewish congress people huddling and having panic meetings with Dermer because they are going to be forced to come out of closet and choose one loyalty or another and the Dems and Pelosi having a nervous breakdown trying to support Obama while still pledging alleigence to Israel.

    Seven Jewish Democratic members of Congress who met Wednesday in Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-N.Y.) office — Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch of Florida, Jerry Nadler and Nita Lowey of New York, Sander Levin of Michigan and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois — lit into Dermer. The invitation, they said, was making them choose between Netanyahu and Obama, making support for Israel into a partisan issue that they never wanted it to be, and forcing them to consider a boycott of the speech. One member, according to someone in the room, went so far as to tell Dermer it was hard to believe him when he said he didn’t realize the partisan mess he was making by going around Obama to get Boehner to make the invitation.
    They suggested Netanyahu consider speaking to members of Congress privately, and not from the podium of the House.

    “There were a wide range of views that were discussed, but one thing we all agreed on emphatically is that Israel should never be used as a political football,” Israel told POLITICO

    As that was happening, a new diplomatic rift was opening. The Israelis sent Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, to meet with Boehner. Boehner’s office remembered to invite Pelosi’s rival, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), but left House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) out.
    A spokesman for the Israeli embassy didn’t return a request for comment.
    Hoyer and House Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Eliot Engel, who’d also been invited, both pulled out when they realized Pelosi was being left out.

    “Had we been told that Rep. Pelosi wanted to attend, she certainly would have been welcome,” explained Boehner spokesman Michael Steel afterward.
    By then the Israeli embassy was scrambling. Pelosi got her own meeting with Edelstein added to the schedule for Wednesday afternoon. She brought along Hoyer and Engel, as well as Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
    Pelosi’s office told POLITICO Tuesday that she’ll go to Netanyahu’s speech if it happens. But Wednesday, she used the Edelstein meeting to tear into the Israelis directly.
    Pelosi “expressed her concern that casting a political apple of discord into the relationship is not the best way forward given the formidable challenges our two countries are facing together,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
    Dermer, meanwhile, scheduled another rushed meeting with Engel for Thursday. Nothing that happened Wednesday seems to have calmed the revolt that has dozens of Democrats considering skipping Netanyahu’s speech. Earnest said that the White House can see why they might.
    “Individual members of Congress will have to make their own decision, some of which I assume will be driven by their schedule and some of which will be driven by their own views about what has transpired over the last several weeks as it relates to this speech,” Earnest said.
    Asked whether the president believes the America-Israel relationship would be harmed by Democrats skipping the speech, Earnest ducked again.
    “The president believes that individual members of Congress will have to decide for themselves,” he said.>>>>

    I think its good though, I want more Israel loyalty spectacles. The more, the better, we need to get to the detonation point. I almost feel like calling Boehner office back and thanking him.

    • annie on February 5, 2015, 12:19 am

      love it. and if they think some hullabaloo love story about the cia and mossad cozying up in an 8 yr old joint assassination story can bump this off the main stage, they got another thing comin. most american have no idea who nasrallah is, much less Mughniyeh, nor do they care. everything is comin up roses.

      • CloakAndDagger on February 5, 2015, 10:43 am

        @ annie

        Me too. I think you and Phil are right and this story is yet another attempt to disrupt the talks with Iran, but that time has passed. Despite all the effort by the hasbara brigade, Americans are just not willing to go to another war. Iran is a bridge too far.

        I am sure you have the same experience, but everyone that I have talked to here in the Bay area is strongly for reconciliation with Iran, and under no circumstances are they supportive of another misadventure in that theater. I am surprised by the awareness and knowledge of even cashiers at Safeway about the destructive powers of Israel and its supporters in our government. I believe that the day we have been waiting for is nearly here – perhaps not in the heartland yet, where Christian fundies still hold a lot of sway, but certainly on the coasts, and definitely in Silicon Valley.

        It is still taboo to talk about Israel openly at work, but when we get together for coffee or drinks among friends and colleagues, the topic comes up more frequently than before – even with our jewish friends (one of them announced that he had Israeli relatives who were all assholes!)

        As for this story, there is no benefit to the CIA to have this be revealed at this time, or ever. As you and Phil correctly surmised, this story is intended to demonstrate the filial and special relationship between Israel and the US, something that is bound to backfire on them. It seems the more desperate they get, the stupider they become.

        More power to them, I say. Please reelect Netanyahu.

      • CloakAndDagger on February 5, 2015, 1:58 pm

        @ annie

        if they think some hullabaloo love story about the cia and mossad cozying up in an 8 yr old joint assassination story can bump this off the main stage, they got another thing comin

        Yep, and it won’t make the dershbag’s pedo story go away either:–JwEKpUXd–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/uvi9p2abfpwgxvl5znav.jpg

      • annie on February 8, 2015, 12:59 am

        hey c&d, i just saw your comments, sorry for such a late response. i agree with you that americans don’t want another war. i’m just worried with the way this new aipac sanctions legislation is set up it may force us into one or something. i’m afraid even tho the people don’t want it that it may be all set up for a gop prez to make it happen next time around. and like what happened when they wanted to invade iraq, they forced an election to get cheney in there, regardless of what americans wanted. they just perfected lots of lies and stories. and then after 9/11 it was all systems go. actually, there were 2 stolen elections in a row. so, i don’t have the confidence that americans not wanting to go to war will guarantee we won’t go. we really have to get smart fast (as a country), because 8 years of a republican president beginning in 2016 just might be too much pressure to stave off. i don’t trust the ptb in the least, they are really dirty players.

      • CloakAndDagger on February 8, 2015, 1:17 am

        @ annie

        I agree with you on your points.

        because 8 years of a republican president beginning in 2016 just might be too much pressure to stave off

        That is all but assured – not that I see much difference between the democrats and the republicans – Hillary is a zio-fellating war hawk. Hillary will not get elected – Bill will weigh her down like an anchor. The dershbag story will have exploded by then and will take the Clintons down with him. I am not going to shed any tears on that one.

        It will either be Jeb or Rand. Rand is the lesser of two evils, but he is no Ron Paul – not by a mile. Nonetheless, I don’t believe he will take us to war – an acorn does not fall too far from the oak. I continue to hope that the rhetoric he has been employing is a ploy to go undetected by the zionist power configuration, allowing him to get nominated and elected, and once elected, his father’s influence on his thinking will prevail (a man has to hope).

        What gives me cause for optimism is that the climate is a lot different from 2001 when the populace was more gullible. 14 years later, we have seen the folly of that war, both in blood and in treasure, and the erosion of our credibility abroad. The reluctance to go to Syria is an example of that new awareness and our growing power.

        It is not a time for complacence, and our vigilance must increase, and we must get smarter quickly, as you rightly state. Nonetheless, the zios are not going to have a cakewalk this time around, and their destruction is imminent.

        And not a second too soon.

    • Kay24 on February 5, 2015, 2:50 am

      I would call the whole fiasco a Netanyahu cheap ploy that is backfiring on him, Dermer, and the Boehner brigade. This is turning into a PR disaster for the trouble maker. He is such a stubborn mule, he cannot see it even now, and has said that he will go ahead with the damn speech.

      “Consuls in U.S. warn: Israel’s friends fear Netanyahu’s speech to Congress will harm ties
      Despite the extensive criticism, Netanyahu tells group that he has no intention of backing out of the speech.” Haaretz headline

      Bibi the booby is so arrogant and wants his way, every time, even when it makes him look like a first class nincompoop. Let us not forget the last time, when he elbowed his way into Paris, unwanted and unloved.

      • David Doppler on February 5, 2015, 6:03 pm

        “The Jerusalem Post also says the leak was generated by the US security establishment: it’s an American warning to Israel and its prime minister, you need the U.S.

        Most likely, someone wanted to send the following message to the people of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: You need us.

        Look at the extent of the cooperation between our intelligence communities, which risks being damaged due to the discordant policies of your prime minister.

        Annie Robbins (who helped me on this post) and I favor a different theory: the story is an effort to entwine the U.S. with Israel and its war with its neighbors just as the United States is showing signs of separating itself.”

        I think there’s truth to both versions. The US is trying to justify to Israel its need to value the relationship with the US, just as Lincoln assured the Southern states in his first inaugural that runaway slaves would continue to be returned – trying to patch things up, avoid a bigger rupture. And those in the US who defend Israel, but want Israel to bend a little, are trying to keep that “no-daylight” riff going, on the assumption that their power base can run for more years, if they can just manage around or past Netanyahu’s ham-handed gaffes.

        But I think Netanyahu wants to escalate, keep driving the initiative. It’s more important to him that he remain at the wheel, regardless of where he takes us. I think he and his Neocon fellow travelers relish the thought of wider conflict, as their pathway to Greater Israel, and ever more excuses not only to “mow the lawn,” but to “re-landscape.” To them, we’re just “the little thing of the rest of the world.”

    • CloakAndDagger on February 5, 2015, 10:52 am

      Obama has 20 months to make hay. I understand (but don’t condone) the personal/political pressures that have prevented him from taking a braver stance till now, but if he delivers more of the same as he has done for the past 6 years, then I am convinced that he is being blackmailed (ala epstein/dershowitz). Doing nothing is bad for his legacy, and more importantly bad for the people of the US that he swore to serve.

      Give your daughters something to be proud of, Mr. President!

  10. Walid on February 5, 2015, 3:17 am

    “Both Hezbollah and Iran privately suspected that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad may have played a role in Mughniyah’s death.” (Levitt)

    Going back to 2008 when Mugniyeh was assassinated, the US had been adamant against Israel entering into negotiations with Syria that had been dormant for 8 years. But suddenly it was simmultaneously announced in Syria, Israel and the US that negotiations would start on May 21st of that same year in Turkey. For some unknown reason, the US let Syria out of the dog house 3 months after Mugniyah was killed in an a heavily guarded area very close to Syria’s military intelligence HQ.

    I remember that Iranian senior reps were present at the funeral but that no Syrian high official.

  11. Pixel on February 5, 2015, 5:06 am

    I think this is one of the most important articles published in Mondoweiss since I began reading this website many, many years ago.

    Why do I say that?

    Because of two words in the title of this piece, “Why now?”

    Being radically honest with ourselves and temporarily suspending our disbelief, while seriously questioning, considering, pondering, researching, and debating every issue we encounter more deeply – no matter where it takes us – moves things to the next level.

    Change is hardly easy and it’s distinctly uncomfortable. Deep and meaningful questioning shakes us to our very core, ultimately challenging everything we have believed about the world, our place in it, and our own identities.

    Mondoweiss continues to move forward – even if tentatively and haltingly – to the next level, which is where, as a leader of ideas, I think it needs to be.

    I continue to be amazed at the courage of people here, many of whom reveal their personal transformations publicly, by writing or commenting, or privately by reading what’s shows up on these web pages day after day.

    What I don’t want to say but firmly believe is that, for as far as we’ve traveled and think we’ve traveled, there’s still much, much further to go.

    • Castellio on February 8, 2015, 12:32 am

      I don’t know if it’s one of the most important articles, there have been so many… but its a very timely and important comment.

    • annie on February 8, 2015, 12:52 am

      thank you pixel.

  12. mariapalestina on February 5, 2015, 6:09 pm

    Code Pink, JVP & other groups are planning a welcome for Bibi and his Congressional toadies while he’s performing in Washington. I hope to be there.

  13. Kay24 on February 5, 2015, 7:17 pm

    Well it seems our Democrats in Congress are still “mulling” whether or not to attend that war monger’s speech. The worm who represents my district, Menendez, has said he WILL attend if Chickenshit shows up. Wow, he certainly knows where his loyalties are, and it is not for his own President and party. Disgusting.
    My question is why are they still “mulling”? This is a no brainer. They should show their President they are behind his attempt to bring peace not war, with Iran, and give him their support, not for an alien and devious man, who does not give a damn for our interests.

    “Democrats mull boycott of Netanyahu’s Congress speech
    Group includes some of Israel’s greatest allies in Congress; ‘I’m not working for his campaign,’ says Congressman Jim McDermott.

    An ever-growing group of U.S. senators and congressmen are considering boycotting a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled for March 3, in front of a joint session of Congress. According to The Washington Post, the group of legislators claim that the speech is a “political stunt” meant to embarrass U.S. President Barack Obama, and aid Netanyahu’s election campaign.

    The group includes of Israel’s greatest allies in the U.S., including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who until very recently served as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “My concern is that it’s obviously political, and it uses the backdrop of the United States House of Representatives,” Feinstein told The Washington Post.”…

  14. traintosiberia on February 5, 2015, 8:39 pm

    “Annie Robbins February 4, 2015, 9:06 pm
    mrw, i swear when …”

    Readers were regaled with expertise of the types of Judith Miller ,Laurie Mylorie and Joseph Bodandsky few years back with devastating impacts. The culture has refinesssed itself by reaching out to the Congress and the Senate much quicker than before and often directly bypassing the citizenry .
    The new heroes like Netanyahu or Bennett or Liberman or Livni or the latest placeholder in inteligence are given royal welcome without ever going though any validating process . Their appearance in Congress itself become the foundation on which the statement is treated as truth . From here it gets to be referred to future — – ” Bennett in front of the Americn legislative body said so and so eliciting standing ovation and confirming American faith in Israeli wisdom and intelligence”
    Until the reality displaces the liar( Judith Miller) ,the lies get referred to ,cited ,and resurrected and umpteenth times get quoted . But the reality has to hit hard and hit home. Otherwise it will still enjoy the status of truth.

  15. American on February 6, 2015, 11:20 am

    Putting this here cause cant find any other thread for it.
    And cause it does lay out the ‘motivations’ and bread crumb trail re :
    911 -ALQ-Saudi-Israel-Syria–ISIS-US- and Russia.
    You could question Moussaoui’s credibility all you want but all the links, movtivations and actions of all the actors we have seen support the allience of Saud and Israel and their shared interest in wiping out any Iran and Shiite influence in the ME.
    The miscalcuation they made is Bush went after Iraq first, not Iran,which was their real target and still is .
    The pieces fit for 911 and all that followed.

    Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel

    February 4, 2015

    Exclusive: Saudi Arabia is under a new cloud after a jailed al-Qaeda operative implicated senior Saudi officials as collaborators with the terror group – and the shadow could even darken the political future of Israeli Prime Netanyahu because of his odd-couple alliance with Riyadh, reports Robert Parry.

    By Robert Parry

    The disclosure that convicted al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui has identified leading members of the Saudi government as financers of the terrorist network potentially reshapes how Americans will perceive events in the Middle East and creates a risk for Israel’s Likud government which has forged an unlikely alliance with some of these same Saudis.

    According to a story in the New York Times on Wednesday, Moussaoui said in a prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of the group’s donors and that the list included Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar bin Sultan, longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many leading clerics.

    “Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” Moussaoui said in imperfect English — “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”

    Although Moussaoui’s credibility came under immediate attack from the Saudi kingdom, his assertions mesh with accounts from members of the U.S. Congress who have seen a secret portion of the 9/11 report that addresses alleged Saudi support for al-Qaeda.

    Further complicating the predicament for Saudi Arabia is that, more recently, Saudi and other Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms have been identified as backers of Sunni militants fighting in Syria to overthrow the largely secular regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The major rebel force benefiting from this support is al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

    In other words, the Saudis appear to have continued a covert relationship with al-Qaeda-connected jihadists to the present day.

    The Israeli Exposure

    And, like the Saudis, the Israelis have sided with the Sunni militants in Syria because the Israelis share the Saudi view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – reaching from Tehran and Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut – is the greatest threat to their interests in the Middle East.

    That shared concern has pushed Israel and Saudi Arabia into a de facto alliance, though the collaboration between Jerusalem and Riyadh has been mostly kept out of the public eye. Still, it has occasionally peeked out from under the covers as the two governments deploy their complementary assets – Saudi oil and money and Israeli political and media clout – in areas where they have mutual interests.

    In recent years, these historic enemies have cooperated in their joint disdain for the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt (which was overthrown in 2013), in seeking the ouster of the Assad regime in Syria, and in pressing for a more hostile U.S. posture toward Iran.

    Israel and Saudi Arabia also have collaborated in efforts to put the squeeze on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who is deemed a key supporter of both Iran and Syria. The Saudis have used their power over oil production to drive down prices and hurt Russia’s economy, while U.S. neoconservatives – who share Israel’s geopolitical world view – were at the forefront of the coup that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

    The behind-the-scenes Israeli-Saudi alliance has put the two governments – uncomfortably at times – on the side of Sunni jihadists battling Shiite influence in Syria, Lebanon and even Iraq. On Jan. 18, 2015, for instance, Israel attacked Lebanese-Iranian advisers assisting Assad’s government in Syria, killing several members of Hezbollah and an Iranian general. These military advisors were engaged in operations against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

    Meanwhile, Israel has refrained from attacking Nusra Front militants who have seized Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria told me that Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with these Nusra forces.

    An Odd Alliance

    Israel’s odd-couple alliances with Sunni interests have evolved over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. In Syria, for instance, senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the civil war rather than Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam.

    In September 2013, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

    “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

    And, in June 2014, speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

    Skepticism and Doubt

    In August 2013, when I first reported on the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia in an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower,” the story was met with much skepticism. But, increasingly, this secret alliance has gone public.

    On Oct. 1, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hinted at it in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike.

    Amid the bellicosity, Netanyahu dropped in a largely missed clue about the evolving power relationships in the Middle East, saying: “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

    The next day, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reported that senior Israeli security officials had met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States who was then head of Saudi intelligence.

    The reality of this unlikely alliance has now even reached the mainstream U.S. media. For instance, Time magazine correspondent Joe Klein described the new coziness in an article in the Jan. 19, 2015 issue.

    He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

    “They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

    Though Klein detected only the bright side of this détente, there was a dark side as well, as referenced in Moussaoui’s deposition, which identified Prince Turki as one of al-Qaeda’s backers. Perhaps even more unsettling was his listing of Prince Bandar, who had long presented himself as a U.S. friend, so close to the Bush Family that he was nicknamed “Bandar Bush.”

    Moussaoui claimed that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, at a time when Bandar was the ambassador to the United States.

    According to the New York Times article by Scott Shane, Moussaoui said he was assigned to “find a location where it may be suitable to launch a Stinger attack and then, after, be able to escape,” but that he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2001, before he could carry out the reconnaissance mission.

    The thought of anyone in the Saudi embassy, then under the control of “Bandar Bush,” scheming with al-Qaeda to shoot down George W. Bush’s Air Force One is shocking, if true. The notion would have been considered unthinkable even after the 9/11 attacks, which involved 15 Saudis among the 19 hijackers.

    After those terror attacks which killed nearly 3,000 Americans, Bandar went to the White House and persuaded Bush to arrange for the rapid extraction of bin Laden’s family members and other Saudis in the United States. Bush agreed to help get those Saudi nationals out on the first flights allowed back into the air.

    Bandar’s intervention undercut the FBI’s chance to learn more about the ties between Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 perpetrators by giving FBI agents only time for cursory interviews with the departing Saudis.

    Bandar himself was close to the bin Laden family and acknowledged having met Osama bin Laden in the context of bin Laden thanking Bandar for his help financing the jihad project in Afghanistan during the 1980s. “I was not impressed, to be honest with you,” Bandar told CNN’s Larry King about bin Laden. “I thought he was simple and very quiet guy.”

    The Saudi government claimed to have broken ties with bin Laden in the early 1990s when he began targeting the United States because President George H.W. Bush had stationed U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, but – if Moussaoui is telling the truth – al-Qaeda would have still counted Bandar among its supporters in the late 1990s.

    Bandar and Putin

    Bandar’s possible links to Sunni terrorism also emerged in 2013 during a confrontation between Bandar and Putin over what Putin viewed as Bandar’s crude threat to unleash Chechen terrorists against the Sochi Winter Olympics if Putin did not reduce his support for the Syrian government.

    According to a leaked diplomatic account of a July 31, 2013 meeting in Moscow, Bandar informed Putin that Saudi Arabia had strong influence over Chechen extremists who had carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Russian targets and who had since deployed to join the fight against the Assad regime in Syria.

    As Bandar called for a Russian shift toward the Saudi position on Syria, he reportedly offered guarantees of protection from Chechen terror attacks on the Olympics. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year,” Bandar reportedly said. “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

    Putin responded, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism.”

    Bandar’s Mafia-like threat toward the Sochi games – a version of “nice Olympics you got here, it’d be a shame if something terrible happened to it” – failed to intimidate Putin, who continued to support Assad.

    Less than a month later, an incident in Syria almost forced President Barack Obama’s hand in launching U.S. air strikes against Assad’s military, which would have possibly opened the path for the Nusra Front or the Islamic State to capture Damascus and take control of Syria. On Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious sarin attack outside Damascus killed hundreds and, in the U.S. media, the incident was immediately blamed on the Assad regime.

    American neocons and their allied “liberal interventionists” demanded that Obama launch retaliatory air strikes even though some U.S. intelligence analysts doubted that Assad’s forces were responsible and suspected that the attack was carried out by extremist rebels trying to pull the U.S. military into the civil war on their side.

    Yet, pushed by the neocons and liberal war hawks, Obama nearly ordered a bombing campaign designed to “degrade” the Syrian military but called it off at the last minute. He then accepted Putin’s help in reaching a diplomatic solution in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

    Later, the Assad-did-it case crumbled amid new evidence that Sunni extremists, supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, were the more likely perpetrators of the attack, a scenario that became increasingly persuasive as Americans learned more about the cruelty and ruthlessness of many Sunni jihadists fighting in Syria. [See’s “The Mistaken Guns of Last August.”]

    Targeting Putin

    Putin’s cooperation with Obama to head off a U.S. military strike in Syria made the Russian president more of a target for the American neocons who thought they finally had reached the cusp of their long-desired “regime change” in Syria only to be blocked by Putin. By late September 2013, a leading neocon, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, announced the goal of challenging Putin and recognizing his sore point in Ukraine.

    Taking to the Washington Post’s op-ed page on Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important step toward ultimately ousting Putin. Gershman wrote, “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” [See’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.“]

    However, in early 2014, Putin was obsessed with Bandar’s implicit threat of terrorism striking the Sochi Olympics, thus distracting him from the “regime change” – being pushed by NED and neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland – next door in Ukraine.

    On Feb. 22, 2014, putschists, spearheaded by well-organized neo-Nazi militias, drove elected President Viktor Yanukovych and his government from power. Putin was caught off-guard and, in the resulting political chaos, agreed to requests from Crimean officials and voters to accept Crimea back into Russia, thus exploding his cooperative relationship with Obama.

    With Putin the new pariah in Official Washington, the neocon hand also was strengthened in the Middle East where renewed pressure could be put on the “Shiite crescent” in Syria and Iran. However, in summer 2014, the Islamic State, which had splintered off from al-Qaeda and its Nusra Front, went on a rampage, invading Iraq where captured soldiers were beheaded. The Islamic State then engaged in gruesome videotaped decapitations of Western hostages inside Syria.

    The Islamic State’s brutality and the threat it posed to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-dominated government of Iraq changed the political calculus. Obama felt compelled to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in both Iraq and Syria. American neocons tried to convince Obama to expand the Syrian strikes to hit Assad’s forces, too, but Obama realized such a plan would only benefit the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

    In effect, the neocons were showing their hand – much as Israeli Ambassador Oren had done – favoring the Sunni extremists allied with al-Qaeda over Assad’s secular regime because it was allied with Iran. Now, with Moussaoui’s deposition identifying senior Saudi officials as patrons of al-Qaeda, another veil seems to have dropped.

    Complicating matters further, Moussaoui also claimed that he passed letters between Osama bin Laden and then Crown Prince Salman, who recently became king upon the death of his brother King Abdullah.

    But Moussaoui’s disclosure perhaps cast the most unflattering light on Bandar, the erstwhile confidant of the Bush Family who — if Moussaoui is right — may have been playing a sinister double game.

    Also facing potentially embarrassing questions is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, especially if he goes through with his planned speech before a joint session of Congress next month, attacking Obama for being soft on Iran.”

    • straightline on February 8, 2015, 2:20 pm

      Slightly off topic but a remarkable report was published in the UK last week by the HoC Defence Committee. Here’s Patrick Cockburn’s article and I’ll quote a couple of gems.

      The committee was shocked by the inability or unwillingness of any of the service chiefs to provide a clear, and articulate statement of the UK’s objectives or strategic plan in Iraq.

      We saw no evidence of the UK Government as a whole seeking to analyse, question, or change the coalition strategy, to which it is committed.

      What the US really thinks about the rise of Isis and al-Qaeda-type organisations was revealed with undiplomatic frankness by Vice-President Joe Biden at a small meeting at Harvard University last October. … He said that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey “were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war. … They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.

      • annie on February 8, 2015, 3:53 pm


      • Walid on February 8, 2015, 4:42 pm
  16. Taxi on February 7, 2015, 1:56 pm

    Good job MW editors and readers for busting up the people-hating, conniving propagandistas.

    The CIA would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS “leak” any info on any of their ops. Full stop.

    This leaves the usual zio media agents in the glaring spotlight. And their bullish machismo fingerprint is all over the story.

    “Why now”?

    Well desperate times call for desperate measures heh heh.

    But listen up folks, my insider source tells me that the CIA has chalked up 22 failed assassination attempts on Imad Mughnieh before they finally got him. Hizbollah’s own investigations into the assassination led them to believe that it was a cia-mossad op aided by a mossad interception of a Syrian communique that revealed the time and place of a social event that Mughnieh would secretly attend. A cold breeze blew between the hizb and Syria while the hizb investigations were unfolding, and in the end, once it was verified and determined that the info was intercepted by the israelis and not leaked by the Syrians, warm relations between the hizb and Syria returned.

    The CIA considered Mughnieh a vital threat to both israeli and American hegemony in the Levant due to his genius military and strategic skills. Mughnieh, a young Lebanese guerrilla fighter, began as a bodyguard for chairman Arafat and ended up as the brain (and often brawn) behind ALL the major ass-kicking that israel got from the Lebanese. Mughnieh and his small hizbollah brigades succeeded in defeating israel where combined Arab armies had failed several times over- and the cia and the mossad deeply feared the seismic effects of continuing Mughnieh/hizbollah victories. Whatever the CIA and mossad say about Mughnieh, he was the mastermind behind the numerous resistance operations that eventually forced the eviction of the brutal idf out of Lebanon in 2000; and he was also the mastermind behind the hizb’s victory against the idf on the battlefields in 2006. He is hugely revered in Lebanon, especially in the south (he’s from the south). His portraits are everywhere, in both moslem and christian villages.

    The hizb took a big hit with Mughnieh’s assassination. But it would seem to be the case the he’s not the only hizbollah ‘brain’ working to ultimately defeat the zionist army: judging from the hizb successful retatlation against israel in the Shebaa farms a couple of weeks ago. There’s plenty Mughniehs where that came from, it appears.

    • Taxi on February 7, 2015, 2:19 pm

      BTW, it was a really stupid move by the jittery zios to leak the story of this assassination cuz it blatantly revealed proof of israeli and American state terrorism.

      Last I checked, setting off car-bombs in residential areas is an act of terrorism.

      • annie on February 8, 2015, 1:11 am

        blatantly revealed proof of israeli and American state terrorism….setting off car-bombs in residential areas

        everyone knows, or should know by now (especially after iraq) the US does this. and israel, well obviously.

    • annie on February 8, 2015, 1:09 am

      thank you so much taxi, great comment..analysis everything.

  17. Jackdaw on February 8, 2015, 4:57 am

    Phil rattles the cage and the Mondoweiss loonies throw fits.

    This is getting played out.

  18. Walid on February 8, 2015, 5:12 pm

    Why now?

    It’s the time of the year when Israel officials are on edge from expecting a Hizbullah payback.
    Mugniyah was assassinated on Lincoln’s birthday and there’s a Hizbullah promise from a few years back that it would make Israel pay dearly for it at some time in the future. This throws Israel into a nightmare that lasts about 10 days each year as the anniversary of the assassination nears. This year Israel took the initiative of doing some spooking of its own in advance of that date.

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