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Assassinated Hezbollah Commander Wreaked Havoc in Israel’s Drone Program

yistael hayom al laqqis assassination

Bibiton (aka Yisrael HaYom) ironic headline, “Mysterious Assassination.”  Nothing mysterious about it at all.

Hezbollah senior commander, Hassan al-Laqqis, assassinated yesterday by the Mossad in Beirut, was responsible for the group’s sophisticated drone program.  This included a robust hacking effort which had rendered Israel’s own most advanced drones helpless in the face of multiple crashes, hacks and other catastrophic failures.  Further, one of his drones had badly embarrassed Israel’s home defense effort by penetrating 30 miles into Israel, just short of the Dimona nuclear plant.  Al Monitor quotes a trusted Hezbollah source describing al-Laqqis’ role:

“One of Imad Mughniyeh’s smart students,” a source close to Hezbollah told me. “He was Hezbollah’s technological Mughniyeh, he’s the commander whose team gave Israel and its spies a serious headache, both on the ground and in the air, he was a genius on the head of tens of geniuses whom are expected to continue the job he was doing.”

The source explained that Laqis was fond of technology and took the first steps two decades ago on the way to transferring Hezbollah into a techie organization. “His steps were seen by many in the beginning as very ambitious, he was the man who made Hezbollah intercept Israeli UAVs and record their footage for years.”

According to Al-Monitor’s source, Laqis and his team should be credited for the “Ayoub” drone that on Oct. 7, 2012, penetrated the Israeli airspace, passing close to the most important strategic Israeli installation, the Dimona nuclear reactor. The drone bypassed the entire Israeli radar and air defense system before being detected and downed by Israel.

The source revealed that Laqis’ efforts helped Hezbollah on Sept. 5, 1997, execute the Ansariyeh ambush, the operation that saw 11 commandos from Israel’s elite naval unit Shayetet 13 killed when they were on a mission inside Lebanon. “Hezbollah back then said that it succeeded through its own counterintelligence capabilities to learn about the operation in advance, later on Sayyed [Hassan] Nasrallah said it was the UAV footages. Today, I tell you it’s Hassan Laqis and his team.”

My Israeli source further reports that the killing was a response to Israel’s frustration at the sabotage of its drone fleet.  But given Israel’s nine previous attempts to kill him, clearly al-Laqqis would’ve decentralized his operation and shared knowledge with colleagues in order to ensure continuity should he be killed.  Other than sheer revenge, it’s hard to see the utility in these operations.

In separate reports, Avi Issacharoff, Galey Tzahal (Army Radio), and Amos Harel (Hebrew) all but lay the murder at the feet of Israel’s Kidon assassination unit.  This confirms yesterday’s report by my source that it was a Mossad hit.  The black ops group was responsible for the bungled killing of Mahmoud al-Mabouh in Dubai.

Israel appears to have no diplomatic solutions to any of its problems whether it be Lebanon, Gaza, or Iran.  So instead it militarizes and securitizes its foreign policy, handing it over lock stock and two smoking barrels to the spooks and the generals.  That’s why the foreign minister is a bellicose fool (despise this kinder, gentler puff piece profile by Jodi Rudoren) who wouldn’t know how to negotiate his way out of a paper bag; and why Israeli policy is dictated at the barrel of a gun.  There are no Israeli diplomats who matter and diplomacy is little more than how to deal with the aftermath of disastrous uses of force (Lebanon war, Mavi Marmara, Mahmoud al Mabouh).  Assassination trumps negotiation.  Unfortunately, few Israelis understand how dysfunctional and pathological this is as state policy.

This NYT story by Robert Mackey and Anne Barnard typically focuses on secondary aspects of the story and misses most of the key elements.  It points to Syria being the cause of the hit and Sunni extremists as being the killers.  Though there have been no known professionally-executed assassinations of Hezbollah senior operatives by Syrian rebels.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • David W. December 4, 2013, 10:41 PM

    Al-Akhbar is now reporting that Laqis was actually head of Hezbollah’s air defense division.

    link to ynetnews.com

  • pabelmont December 5, 2013, 5:04 AM

    One imagines that the Hezbollah technical department will decentralize themselves and spread this valuable information and technical expertise far and wide — at least to all states and militias likely to suffer from attack by drones operated by Israel AND ALSO from drones SOLD by Israel to other operators.

    Of course, this information is in two parts. One part is how to disable CURRENT drones. The other, more serious part, is how to learn how to do that. The latter may require human spying. Do Israeli MIC have people who will reveal secrets to enemies/victims?

  • ben December 5, 2013, 7:30 AM

    Is it not true last year iran hacked and took over one of America’s most advanced drones with russian and chinese assistance? They more then likely have reversed engineered the drone by now Perhaps iran is using hizbollah to field test all the stuff they have learnt.

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