Every intelligence agency in the world would take pride in an operation like the assassination of Imad Mugniyah: Such operation requires an exact knowledge of Mugniyah’s whereabouts, the ability to target him with an explosive device, and the ability to operate within a hostile Arab capital. True excellence.
What needs to be done in order to carry out a proper assassination operation? The answer given by several intelligence officials who were interviewed on this matter yesterday was “intelligence, intelligence, and more intelligence.”
First, a thick file, as much as is possible, must be compiled about the target: Where does he live and work, who does he hang out with, what are his traveling habits, and what are the means he adopts in order to thwart assassination attempts.
This intelligence information, which can only result from a highly thorough gathering effort, will give rise to various possibilities for an assassination operation.
In order to assassinate Mugniyah, there was a need for some kind of “lead,” a piece of information that would lead or break the way and the security rings surrounding him. Such assassination operation can go on for long months, and usually includes the utilization of a human source who is close to the target of assassination.
One must be careful when dealing with a human source, because he may be a double agent. Therefore, he will be equipped with means such as a recording or filming device that would enable him to document his proximity to the target.
In order to operate in a city like Damascus, one requires “deep cover” that would withstand even the toughest investigations. The field agents of intelligence organizations must be trained in working under deep cover that would remain intact even if it is subjected to scrutiny. This cover will also enable the agents to disappear immediately, knowing that airports and seaports will be closed off within a short period of time.
Based on past events, in order to ensure that the target for assassination is in close proximity to the explosive device, arrangements must be made for a person trusted by the target to give him some kind of object.
This was the case with Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash, “the engineer,” who was assassinated in 1996 using a cellular phone that was given to him by a friend. This was also the case with the Islamic Jihad commander in Lebanon in 2006. He received the vehicle that blew him up from a good friend.
It would be interesting to know who gave Mugniyah the vehicle he exploded in, or who received the vehicle from him in order to take it to the garage.