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Mossad Assassinates Key Hezbollah Commander in Beirut

Hassan al laqqis

Hassan al-Laqqis, assassinated Hezbollah commander

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Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqqis, in his late 40s, was a close confidant of Hassan Nasrallah.  Last night about midnight Beirut time, he drove his Jeep Cherokee into the parking lot of his residence in the suburb of Hadath.  There he was attacked by assailants who fired five shots with a silencer at close range as he sat in his car.  My Israeli source confirms claims by Hezbollah that this was a Mossad assassination.  Al-Laqqis’ son died in fighting during the 2006 Lebanon war with Israel.

The foreign ministry’s spokesperson, Yigal Palmor released this pack of lies:

He pointed out that these “automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hizbullah,” adding that the party “doesn’t need evidence or facts… They just blame anything on Israel.”

I promise that in coming days you will hear some different statements from Israeli leaders.

Not only is the killing itself important, the circumstances of it are perhaps even more so.  The Mossad created a “front” website called Terror Control, which is devoted to exposing the leadership and methods of Hezbollah.  The site claims to have launched by “western intelligence agencies.”  But this is a lie.  It was created by the Mossad.  Domaintools indicates that likely false registration data was filed to register the site in the name of Adrian Peeters of Roulers, Belgium.  It also offers a street and e-mail address though I’d bet these turn out to be fake.

Terror Control screen grabThe site offers money in return for exposing Hezbollah’s leadership to assassination:

Even though we believe that it is the duty of each and every one of us to battle the scourge of terror with any means at our disposal, we have decided to provide a financial reward for information provided that might assist in fighting terror.

Information you send us will be verified, and cash payments will be sent. The verification of course takes time, so we ask you to be patient after submitting your information.

After information has been verified, we will be in touch with the people who sent it to check how best to send the compensation, without compromising their safety in any way. We undertake to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to anyone sending valuable information.

…Concerning the people displayed in the photos on the website, we are interested in their true identity, family, place of residence, friends, telephone numbers, email addresses, country of origin, etc.

The site offers surveillance photos of various Hezbollah figures though it doesn’t identify them.  It might as well display wanted posters with bounties offered on their heads.

Ironically, the website urges informers to take special precaution in concealing their identities in much the same way that Edward Snowden concealed his in contacting Glenn Greenwald:

Your personal security matters to us.

For your own security, we recommend you perform the following steps when you send your details:
  • Connect through a public Internet Service Provider such as an Internet café.
  • Verify that the SSL on the Internet site is functioning properly:
    • Make sure that the displayed Internet address begins with https://
    • Verify that it is working properly.
      • Make sure that a padlock icon is displayed next to the address of the Internet site. In some browsers, the padlock will be displayed at the bottom of the page.
      • When using a newer version of Firefox, first click on the name of the site appearing next to the address field, and only then will the padlock icon appear.
  • Do your browsing using Tor.

This shows that while the good guy whistleblowers use such protection to keep themselves safe, intelligence agents use it to kill people.  Similarly, while the web offers undeniable benefits to mankind, it also serves as a playground for killers.

My source confirms that information obtained via the website was instrumental in facilitating al-Laqqis’ murder.  I have heard of such websites before.  But never of one established by the Mossad, let alone one that brought about someone’s murder.  In a sense, such a site offers terrific opportunities to both intelligence agencies and would-be informers.  The latter can remain relatively anonymous if he wishes.  It allows him to retain some measure of independence if he doesn’t wish to become an ongoing Israeli agent or double-agent.  It also allows the Mossad to significantly expand its reach beyond  the conventional person-to-person recruitment of intelligence assets.  Though Israel clearly operates relatively freely when it wishes inside Lebanon, it may not have the boots on the ground to recruit all the agents it wishes there.  Setting up a website allows them to circumvent that.

Ask yourself a larger question: why this?  Why now?  Bibi is at quite a low ebb in terms of international influence.  Though this hasn’t hurt him seriously within Israel, he’s become a nobody on the world stage.  I imagine he’s worried that could translate into political irrelevance inside Israel as well.  What better way to burnish those security credentials than by putting a few Arabs in coffins.  When Al Manar shows the funeral, Lebanese will be proud of al-Laqqis’ ultimate sacrifice, but Israelis even prouder.  You know who reaps the benefit of that pride…

Also, Hezbollah has, over the past few years, successfully dismantled a number of key Israeli cells inside Lebanon which offered critical intelligence to the Mossad.  This serves to remind the Islamist group that the Israelis are still a force to be reckoned with.  There’s nothing a spy agency hates more than to have its enemies laugh at its incompentence.

All this comes in the context of last week’s massive bomb that attacked the Iranian embassy in Beirut.  Though it appears Israel wasn’t directly involved in that bombing according to my source, it’s entirely possible an Israeli ally like Saudi Arabia or an Al-Qaeda group like Al Nura was involved.

So while the world focuses its attention on Iran, and Pres. Rouhani gets plaudits for his moderating influence on his country’s foreign and nuclear policy, the Mossad and Saudi Arabia’s mukhabarat have their own message.  These two Iranian enemies won’t sit idly by.  They will make Iran and Hezbollah pay their pound of flesh and continue hurting its interests in whatever ways they can.  While such incidents won’t in and of themselves derail the nuclear talks, they create a level of instability and tension which furthers the interests of those who want to interrupt or even derail this process of rapprochement.

I’d imagine I was offered this information by Israeli intelligence sources because they want to brag about their prowess in capturing their prey.   They want to chortle as Hezbollah absorbs the fact that its security was penetrated successfully.  They hope Nasrallah will be quaking as one of his inner circle was picked off.  I can’t help facilitating this perverse war dance.  But my ultimate mission is to allow the world to judge the tactics and methods of the national security state independently of whatever twisted form of pride resides in the breasts of its agents.

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{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Pip December 4, 2013, 3:16 AM

    How, within a matter of hours of the assasination, does your ‘source’ ascertain that it was Mossad?

  • Pulp December 4, 2013, 4:51 AM

    One Question with your permission
    You published a very extensive piece after 8 AM Israel time. Before you did Or Heler at channel 10 news morning show reported the assassination story, few hours before that reports aired at few Israeli forums. The website story appeared on Ynet and rotter 2 days before you aired it.
    and yet despite all the above and despite the fact that there is no originality in your reporting you call it original, why ?

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 5:10 PM

      @ Pulp: I never claimed to be the first to report the assassination. In fact I linked to Reuters, which was the first western media report. Nor did I claim to be first to report the existence of the Terror Control site. But I was first to report information from a tip submitted to the site was used in the assassination. I was the first to connect the site with the murder. That’s known in journalism as a “scoop.”

      I’ll accept your apology for doubting me & my source.

      • Pulp December 5, 2013, 6:35 AM

        You indeed provided a scoop, with no supporting evidence.
        The scoop you provided lacks any merits, Planing such an operation in the heart of Beirut takes time : surveillance, Intelligence gathering, planing, training, approval etc. The website was launched (based on whois search) in May, simply not enough time to complete all the phases associated with such operation for a tip provided through a website specially when your freedom and resources operating in Beirut are limited.
        Can you provide any evidence supporting your source’s claim ?

  • Joseph December 4, 2013, 6:59 AM

    pay their pound of flesh?

  • Ari Greenfield December 4, 2013, 9:10 AM

    FWIW, NY Times is reporting “a previously unknown group calling itself the Free Sunnis of Baalbek, a town in the Bekaa Valley where Hezbollah support is strong, claimed responsibility for the killing.” And several outlets including AP have reported that he was attacked with an assault rifle rather than a silenced pistol.

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 5:06 PM

      @ Ari Greenfield: As you wrote “FWIW.” In this case & many others NYT isn’t worth very much. You should know that when NYT reports a story I do & we diverge, that they have it wrong 9 1/2 times out of ten. The Syrian rebels took credit falsely for the Latakia bombing when it was Israel’s doing. In fact, Israel may be deliberately diverting attention by telling the FSA to take credit. Hezbollah, my readers, my source & Israeli intelligence know who did it. NYT readers: not so much.

      As for assault rifles: you don’t assassinate people with assault rifles.

  • Pip December 4, 2013, 10:24 AM

    “The Mossad created a “front” website called Terror Control, which is devoted to exposing the leadership and methods of Hezbollah”.

    Nice. A community outreach program similar to TIPS, or Crimestoppers.

    https://a056-crimestoppers.nyc.gov/crimestoppers/public/tip-form.cfm

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 5:00 PM

      @Pip:Satire is NOT your strong suit nor is this remotely funny or cute. Leave satire to the professionals.

  • ben December 4, 2013, 12:04 PM

    Seems like a win win for me. Hizballah really seems to be getting hammered recently. High casualties in syria with its leader dead. The iran bombing and now this. One can almost hope that the average lebanese is catching on that Hizballah is bad for stability. Perhaps they will launch a war on israel to try and regain its relevance.

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 11:35 PM

      @ ben:

      Seems like a win win for me.

      “Seems like” you’re a moron. Hezbollah isn’t “getting hammered.” As for its “leader dead,” hardly. Nasrallah is quite alive & healthy. News sites say al-Laqqis was one of the top 50 Hezbollah commanders. That’s senior, but not “the leader.”

      Mirroring your yammering tone: One can almost hope that the average world citizen is catching on that Israel is bad for stability. Perhaps Israel will launch a war on some 2-bit Arab country and knock the crap out of it as Michael Ledeen advised that America do periodically to show the world who’s boss. That way Israel too can “regain its relevance.” Whaddaya say to that, ben?

  • Ari Greenfield December 4, 2013, 2:39 PM

    Richard- the website you mention is interesting, is that something you discovered or were directed to by someone else? It’s not unique for any agency to set up a tip line but the security reminder portion does seem somewhat unique- especially if you are to collect a reward for providing information. It’s impossible to remain completely anonymous but also collect a reward. I guess the idea is to provide a level of reassurance to any tipsters that the information they send cannot easily be hacked by those they are providing information on?

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 11:29 PM

      @ Ari Greenfield: Yes, the site was pointed out to me by an someone who works closely with me. He gave me the other info about the site I reported as well.

      Ironically, the security precautions the Mossad suggests that tipsters use are virtually the same as those used by Edward Snowden to authenticate his communication with Greenwald and others.

      As for protection, does anyone really think that a website created by the Mossad would allow any tipster to conceal his identity & anonymity? Mossad relies on the fact that they’d be a lot smarter than anyone who approached them via that site. Unless the tipster was an intelligence agent himself Mossad would identify him in a heartbeat (I’m guessing).

  • pea December 4, 2013, 6:20 PM

    Assault rifles for assassination? Off the top of my head Anwar Sadat and Indira Ghandi were assassinated using assault rifles. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 11:25 PM

      @ pea: Gandhi & Sadat were not shot at close range five times in the head and neck in a car park at midnight with assault rifles, as al-Laqqis was. Besides all the media say they were shot with pistols (9mm I believe), not assault rifles. I don’t know where he dug up that fahrkochteh claim about assault rifles. The Mossad doesn’t use assault rifles in their hits.

  • Davey December 4, 2013, 6:25 PM

    I don’t get this: A web site will pay for information on selected people that its promoter intend to kill illegally, without due process, and this website is allowed to pursue illegal activity openly?

    • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 11:21 PM

      The site doesn’t say it will kill these people. If it did then you’d have an excellent case. But now that we know that they did, using the site to do it, someone should file a complaint with the web host about this & get the site taken down. Not that this will help things. They’ll move it to a new host or get their own private server.

      • Davey December 5, 2013, 7:41 PM

        Who is the web host and how do you reach them? Given the site’s evident connection to murder, the site must be shut down. And those receiving payment for information leading to murder — aren’t they accessories to murder, especially to the extent that they know the purpose to which the information will be put??

        • Richard Silverstein December 5, 2013, 10:40 PM

          This is the registration information available at the site I linked to:

          Tech Organization: NIC Hosting s. r. o.
          Tech Name: Vaclav Faltus
          Tech Street: Dlha 9
          Tech City: Ivanka pri Dunaji
          Tech ZIP: 90028
          Tech Country: SK
          Tech E-Mail: info at nic dot sk
          Tech Phone: +421.421245945252

          I cannot vouch for whether it’s real or fraudulent. The phone number and zip code look fake.

          • Davey December 6, 2013, 10:48 AM

            One can only try.

  • S December 4, 2013, 9:18 PM

    They should make a similar site for Mossad operatives.

  • Benjamin December 5, 2013, 6:38 AM

    What middle-east countries are good for stability? On the surface it seems that none of them are working towards a stable Middle East.

    • Davey December 5, 2013, 8:05 PM

      It is the imbalance of power which causes instability. Israel has superior and overweening military power in the region. If this power were effectively offset by countervailing force, there would be a lot less anxiety both within and without the ME.

  • ben December 5, 2013, 6:44 AM

    Richard you know I was referring to the leader in syria obviously Nasrallah is alive. I read a report that said around 200 hizbollah mitilia men were killed recently. So yeah with assassination at home bombings of embassies and heavy losses in syria I think its fair to say hizbollah is taking a well deserved beating.

    War would be bad for israel especially if its against hizbollah… its bad pr and no one like 100′s of rockets and missiles being launched at thier homes… but war againt israel by hizbollah help maintains its popularity.

    And please no need to be a jerk and call people morons.

    I respect your opinion even though most times I disagree with you… I still understand your motives

  • Robert Mullen December 5, 2013, 7:10 AM

    Lots of ink spilled on an arcane question: was it an “assault rifle” or a handgun, (sound suppressed or not). A source of confusion, perhaps, is in the definition of an assault rifle, which would take too much ink to discuss here. One need only what is available in Israel in current production to establish that the assassin could well have used an “assault rifle”, modified for clandestine use. Again there are several models of “assault rifle” manufactured in Israel the are suitable that, with cyclic rates of fire in the 750-900 rounds per minute range, five shots to a skull size target take only one tap on the trigger. (Suitable weapons currently manufactured in Israel include: Micro Tavor (aka Commando Tavor or MTAR-21); the mini-assault Galil (MAGAL) and Galil SAR); the list with subvariations of the weapon type goes on, not to say what comes out of a government custom design shop.) A useful reference may be found in: The World’s Assault Rifles. G.B. Johnston & T.B. Nelson, Ironside International Pubs, Lorton, VA, 2010.

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