WikiLeaks: Syrian Security Services Blamed Each Other for Mughniyeh’s Murder

Syrian officials were stunned by the assassination of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus two years ago, triggering a blame game between rival security services, according to WikiLeaks cables published by The Guardian newspaper.

U.S. reports from February 2008, revealed by WikiLeaks, described how the Assad regime was shocked when Mughniyeh was murdered by a sophisticated bomb planted in his car.

“Syrian military intelligence and general intelligence directorate officials are currently engaged in an internecine struggle to blame each other for the breach of security that resulted in Mughniyeh's death," the U.S. embassy reported.

Saudi ambassador to Lebanon at the time Abdel Aziz Khoja told U.S. diplomats in Beirut that Hizbullah believed the Syrians were responsible for the Damascus killing. No Syrian official was present at Mughniyeh's funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs the following day. Iran was represented by its foreign minister, who, the Saudi envoy said, had come to calm down the Shiite group and keep it from taking action against Damascus.

Another rumor, Khoja said, was that Syria and Israel had made a deal to allow Mughniyeh to be killed, an Israeli objective.

U.S. diplomats reported that the killing led to tensions between Syria and Iran, perhaps because Tehran shared Khoja's suspicion of Syrian complicity in the affair. It took more than a year for Syrian-Iranian relations to improve.

In 2006, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr told U.S. diplomats that Mughniyeh was "very active in Beirut,” hinting that he was involved in a spate of murders of anti-Syria politicians.