Having just celebrated the life of a tzadik, a saint, we now, l'havdil (to separate), celebrate the death of a rasha, a wicked person. In this case, we celebrate the demise of Hezbollah senior commander Imad Mughniyeh, who AP reports was killed in a car bombing in Syria Tuesday. Mughniyeh, may his name be erased, was the suspected master mind of the April 1983 car bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and the simultaneous truck bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks and French military base in Beirut, killing 58 French soldiers and 241 Marines. He was indicted in the United States for the 1985 TWA hijacking in which Shiite militants seized the 747 and flew it back and forth between Beirut and Algiers demanding the release of Lebanese Shiites captured by Israel. During the hijacking, the body of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, a passenger on the plane, was dumped on the tarmac of Beirut airport. During Lebanon's civil war, Mughniyeh was also believed to have directed a string of kidnappings of Americans and other foreigners, including former Associated Press chief Mideast correspondent Terry Anderson — who was held for six years until his release in 1991 — and CIA station chief William Buckley, who was killed in 1985. He was on the FBI wanted list, with a $5 million bounty on his head.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack stated, "The world is a better place without this man in it. One way or the other he was brought to justice."
Hezbollah blamed Israel for the assasination of Mughniyeh. I would prefer to think that the United States finally avenged the deaths of Robert Stethem, William Buckley, the 241 Marines, our diplomats and the other American citizens murdered by this thug. But if Israel did the deed, I would also be proud. And if it was the French, they deserve praise as well.
The Marines who died in the Beirut bombing were not sent there to conquer or occupy Lebanon, but rather to try to give that tortured nation an opportunity for peace and democracy after years of civil war. In closing, I honor their memory.