BEIRUT: Syrian TV aired over the weekend what it said was the confession of a Jordanian-Palestinian man who spied for Israel and provided it with information that led to the assassination of one of Hezbollah’s top commanders.
The man, who identified himself as Iyad Yousef An-Naim, born in 1976, said he had been recruited and trained by Israel’s Mossad in 2006 to conduct intelligence work in Syria and in 2008 provided the details of Imad Mughniyeh’s car during one of his assignments.
While on an intelligence-gathering mission in Damascus in 2008, Naim said he gave Israel the details of Mughniyeh’s car hours before it was blown up on Feb. 12.
His assignment on that day, Naim said, was to investigate a side street in the Syrian capital in an attempt to locate non-Syrian political groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
The 35-year-old said he was in constant contact with his Israeli handler during the mission. After initially failing to find several targets, one of which was a silver four-by-four Toyota Pajero, his handler told him to carry on with the search.
“He [the handler] told me to continue my search for a balcony with a red-tiled roof and a silver Pajero. I looked and looked but could not find either. … However, before I got to the main street a silver Pajero entered [the side street] and behind it a Mercedes. I took the number down and gave it to [the handler],” Naim said.
It was not until he returned to Latakia, his base of operations in Syria, that Naim realized one of the cars had belonged to Hezbollah's Mughniyeh. His discovery came after he had seen pictures of Mughniyeh’s bombed car on television. In the interview aired Saturday, Naim told his interviewer that he was certain that the car he'd seen on TV was the same one he had seen in that Damascus side street on the day of the attack.
Syrian TV said Naim’s comments showed the extent of foreign plots against Syria.
Damascus has come under intensive pressure by the international community to end a months-long crackdown on protesters calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. The U.N. said last week that 2,600 people, mostly civilians had been killed so far in the brutal crackdown. Syrian authorities say the killing of civilians is being carried out by armed “terrorist gangs.”
Mughniyeh, who was a senior military commander in Hezbollah, was implicated in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and U.S. Marine and French peacekeeping barracks in Beirut, which killed more than 350 people, and the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980’s.
Hezbollah, one of Syria’s main supporters, has accused Israel of being behind the killing of Mughniyeh and has threatened to avenge his death.